Welcome to the 475th Hunger Games: Dark, Darker, Yet Darker, which may be Aria's first Games alone that doesn't get discreetly deleted after months of inactivity.
- You can submit up to four tributes. This might change.
- If your tribute is a flat or boring character, they can get rejected. The same goes for incomplete or troll tributes.
- Lunaiis for each tribute are required. The Lunaiis must be 130x160 pixels with a transparent background.
- Submit tributes with their links and Districts.
- Reserves last exactly twenty-four hours from the moment you post a comment.
- To prove you've read this, comment all the bolded letters together.
- The more active you are, the more likely your tributes are going to survive. Regular comments are appreciated!
- Have fun, and enjoy these Games!
Arena and Twists
The arena this year is going to be a post-apocalyptic city. Tributes must survive with the help of remnants of old buildings and items found inside. The cornucopia itself is a rundown park with a broken fountain at the center.
Unlike many other Hunger Games in the past, there will be no animals or monsters lurking about to kill you. Instead, the twist of these Games is that there will only be one day.
Once that day ends, all the tributes will be plunged into an eternal night, growing dark, darker, yet darker after every passing second. Lack of daylight for so long can easily drive someone insane.
That's not the end of it. Every time the clock strikes midnight, there will be a massive earthquake. During this earthquake, the entire layout of the arena will change. If a tribute ever finds a map of the arena, the map would become useless the next night.
The arena is truly an ever-changing maze that keeps growing darker. Tributes are challenged with something harder than surviving—holding on to your sanity.
The Careers: Brighton Honeycutt (1M),
Scarlett Winters (1F), Mercury Kwildor (2M), Genevieve Azarling (2F), Michael Caboose (3M), Sabrina Clemency (4F), Jacob Flare (12M), Eugene Watson (14M), Rio Waterborne (14F)
Rodeo Baldios (CM), Francis Faux (6M), Lilah Jöllenbeck (8F), Finland Faux (9M), Hazel Maize (9F), Flicker Grazen (10M), Canary Ash (12F)
An Unlikely Alliance:
Coco Chanel (CF), Maverick Olympus (4M), Antoine Boudoir (7M), Lindell Brocklehurst (7F), Bellum Bliston (13M), Kasha Sewall (13F)
A Dubious Duo:
Novaya Gates (0F), Rosalind Bree (3F)
Claude Foster (0M), James Desmond (5M), Talia Mignonette (5F), Grant Sawyer (8M), Posia Courtier (11F)
Red: In Danger
The 475th Hunger Games
Night One: The Sun Begins to Set
Lilah Jöllenbeck, District Six Female
Those were the first things I noticed after the tube led me into the arena.
In an abandoned park in a city where us tributes were the only lives, a shrub like that should not have existed.
I had a feeling its only purpose was to unnerve me. I had a feeling it was only there to remind me of Violet.
Oh, come on, Lilah, I’m always at the back of your brain.
I chose to ignore Violet, the most prominent of the voices in my head.
The oleanders were wilting, anyway.
Tearing my eyes away from the poisonous flowers, I looked to my left. Standing on another pedestal right next to mine was Hazel (9F), one of my allies. Upon noticing my glance, Hazel gave me a reassuring smile. I nodded at her, before turning to my right.
There stood a Career, Eugene Watson (14M). With his dazzling smile and menacing eyes, he managed to seem intimidating and attractive at the same time. He winked at me before I rolled my eyes and looked into the Cornucopia, searching for twin daggers.
Lilah, you should just jump off the pedestal.
You could do everyone a favour. Just jump off your pedestal, blow yourself up and—
I drowned out Violet’s voice.
I looked at the clock that was displayed in the sky. It now read fifty seconds.
Antoine Boudoir, District Seven Male
The skies were turning yellow as dusk began to fall, and soon, we all would be plunged into an endless night.
Now, I wasn’t afraid of the dark. However, I knew for a fact that if someone was trapped in eternal darkness, they would soon go mad. I did not want that to happen to me.
In the minute before bloodshed truly began, I decided to make myself useful and look around.
The first tribute I noticed was Maverick (4M), the leader of our alliance. To be honest, I was surprised anyone would want me as an ally at all, but there he was, someone from a Career District who made his own alliance and invited a monster like me.
My eyes explored the Cornucopia. Scattered around the broken water fountain at the center were many packs, weapons and other goods. I searched for an axe, which was—
There was an explosion that every tribute turned to look at. The pedestal which previously held the girl from District Ten was replaced with soot and chunks of flesh, some of which landed near other tributes. The girl from District Three—Rosalind (3F), was it?—did not seem too keen about the fact a few bits of the dead tribute landed on her shirt.
Idiot couldn’t keep herself from dying before the Games even started.
Glancing at the clock that displayed forty seconds, I took a deep breath.
James Desmond, District Five Male
The Games didn’t even start yet, and someone already died. Brilliant. While most tributes were horrified, I merely chuckled. It was just a smaller competition for me, then.
I wasn’t too concerned about anyone else dying. As a loner, I could kill whoever I wanted to, whenever I wanted to and however I wanted to. I could stretch out a painful death and strike when an attack was least expected, and no one could do anything about it.
The only thing I was worried about at the moment was the bloodbath. It wasn’t my strongest suit, considering how fast it was going to go. All I needed to do was dash in, grab a weapon, kill a tribute and get out as soon as possible. Easier said than done.
As for weapons, I wanted to go for a trident, or a machete, or even better—both. I’d have to see how things play out.
I looked to the tribute on my right only to be greeted by a glare from Francis Faux (6M). I met him with the same expression, and for a few moments, we had a little stare-off before he turned to someone else. Probably one of his allies.
To my left was a skittish girl from District Eleven, Posia (11F). She seemed to have gritted teeth and was looking straight into the heart of the Cornucopia. I would have loved to tear her into bloody pieces.
Only thirty more seconds remaining.
Rio Waterborne, District Fourteen Female
I always tried to hide any signs of fear, because weak tributes were the ones who feared things, and I couldn’t afford to seem weak to anyone—especially not my own allies, the Careers.
Kasha Sewall (13F) from District Thirteen was standing on the pedestal to my left. She was nice enough during training, but unfortunately for her, I doubted that she would survive long. If she did, good for her. If not, good for everyone else.
To my right stood Brighton (1M), an ally. He seemed pretty bubbly and cheerful for a Career. Oddly enough, most of the Careers this year didn’t seem too eager for blood. Well, as far as I knew. After all, any one of them could be doing this to keep up a disguise, even Brighton.
I wanted to come back from the Games alive. Then again, so did everyone else. I wanted to come back so I could bring back honour. I wanted to bring back honour for my mother, who was killed for trying to reach out for her drowned son.
I’ll come back for you, Mom.
I changed my focus to the Cornucopia, trying to search for a spatha or a harpoon. Packs of food, medical kits and weapons dotted the dilapidated park. Soon, those packs would belong to a bunch of tributes, and, if we were lucky enough, most would be ours.
Only time would be able to tell, and right now it said twenty seconds remaining.
Rosalind Bree, District Three Female
With only twenty seconds remaining on the clock, remnants of a dead girl were resting on my clothes, which was not fun at all.
I had no allies to back me up, so I didn’t think going into the Cornucopia would be worth getting myself killed. However, I did need food and materials for traps, seeing as I didn’t really wield a weapon.
I looked around and saw the tributes around me, trying to analyse the biggest threats and strategise how I should go about this. One wrong move could easily get you killed.
A few pedestals away stood the prideful boy from the Capitol, Rodeo (CM). During training, he would often yell at the Careers for being evil. As far as I knew, if he didn’t deem me evil, I was safe from him.
Next to Rodeo was Claude (0M). He was looking down, as if he was wondering if he could just step off the pedestal and blow himself up like the girl from District Ten. He didn’t seem too eager about winning the Games.
Whatever floated his boat.
I eyed the rest of the tributes and carefully thought out what I was going to do, plans and strategies clicking together like cogs and wheels in a machine. A small mistake could easily destroy it, and I couldn’t afford to make a mistake.
But that was alright, because I wasn’t going to fail.
There were only ten seconds left until the massacre began.
Finland Faux, District Nine Male
In ten seconds, the greatest fight of our lives would begin.
In ten seconds, both innocent and guilty blood would start to spill.
In ten seconds, the Hunger Games would begin.
Now nine seconds.
I tried not thinking about it too much. It would be just like how things were back in District Ten, despite moving to District Nine recently. I could tend to plants and raise animals in the green meadows of this arena.
Of course, that would be hard to believe, considering the abandoned city we were all stuck in.
Maybe I could help those oleanders near the fountain.
“Finn,” said a voice, just loud enough for me to hear. I turned to see my brother, Francis (6M), looking straight at me. “Remember the plan?”
I nodded. He’d told me to stay by him all the time and never leave his sight. According to him, I’d easily get killed.
He wasn’t wrong, but it would’ve been nice if he had phrased it differently.
I looked right to find Genevieve (2F), the Career. She’d been silent all the time, and whenever someone who wasn’t a Career would approach her during training, she’d stare at them coldly until they left. I definitely didn’t want to mess her.
Things will be fine, I reassured myself. It’ll be just like home.
Just don’t kill and don’t get killed.
Eugene Watson, District Fourteen Male
The second that gong sounded, pairs of feet leapt off their pedestals, some away into the rest of the city and others towards the goods that the Cornucopia held. I, like the other Careers, obviously made my way to the Cornucopia, immediately scouring it for a snake-sword.
“Aha!” I pulled one out of a bag. To my left, I spotted the girl from District Six rummaging through items. Lifting my weapon, I quickly made my way towards her, kicking her down before she even noticed I was here.
The second she tried to crawl away, I stepped on her neck, making sure she couldn’t. As she desperately tried clawing at her neck, I merely shrugged and said, “Sorry, darling.”
I then proceeded to whip the snake-sword across her face multiple times, ignoring her screams of agony until they finally came to a stop. Her face was mutilated and torn to shreds, and my trusty weapon was coated with her blood.
I stepped aside from my first kill—the first death after the Games had actually started—and looked for my allies to see if I could assist them with their victims.
Canary Ash, District Twelve Female
I had already gotten myself a pack and a pair of throwing knives. I wasn’t too worried about the poison. There was probably some in the pack, and even if there wasn’t, I could use them either way.
I was about to make my way to the outskirts to wait and look out for my allies so that I could easily help them if they were attacked. However, the boy from District Eleven had other plans when he slashed at my leg.
I quickly turned around, ignoring the sudden flare of pain and jabbed my elbow upwards into his jaw.
For once, being the shorter one helped me.
As the burly guy attempted killing me with his sickle, I tried dodging his attacks. He was only able to land a few hits on me. I kept punching and kicking strategically in order to knock him down. At one point, I was able to kick him in the crotch.
While he was momentarily stunned, I ran past him. The second he got up, I flung one of my knives at him, the knife lodging itself into his neck. His body crashed onto the ground.
I went back to his corpse and retrieved my knife, wiping the blood off of it while looking out for my allies.
Flicker Grazen, District Ten Male
I had no weapon yet, and the Careers were already conquering the Cornucopia. It would be too risky to get in to grab something. That would be suicide.
I scanned the area, before noticing a certain tribute hiding and holding a weapon that I needed.
Was it worth it, charging in weaponless? Probably not.
But the District Eleven girl didn’t seem like she’d be too good in combat, and, besides, hiders don’t expect attacks.
It wouldn’t be nice to kill her just for her stuff, but being nice was the least of my priorities.
I charged at Posia (11F), who wasn’t even looking in my direction until I got close enough. The moment she saw me, she jumped out of her hiding place and engaged me in a fight.
Being the stronger one, I was able to get the upper hand, landing a few blows on her. Seeing as her knives were meant for throwing, she wasn’t able to attack me with them as much.
Even though I needed regular knives that weren’t for throwing, those would do.
Eventually, I was able to pin her to the ground. Posia started trying to squirm her way out of my grip, but I still had the upper hand. I tried grabbing the knife out of her hand, but she suddenly stabbed upwards and cut my hand.
In my short moment of shock, she was able to slip away and sink it into my back.
Howling in pain as she took the knife out and started running away, I tried chasing her, only to stumble over and fall to the ground. I tried getting up again, but my vision started to blur as I blacked out.
Maverick Olympus, District Four Male
Spear in hand, I marched around the Cornucopia for any tribute to kill. Attacking a Career would do me no good, so going for a loner would’ve been better.
I was lucky enough to spot Claude (0M) aimlessly walking about, probably trying to leave the Cornucopia. I quickly caught up to him and smacked him with the spear.
When he noticed, the only thing he did was make a run for it. He didn’t seem too eager to fight back, and his attempt to run away was feeble.
My spear went through his chest rather quickly and painlessly. His body crashed onto the ground as I turned to see something rather horrific.
Sabrina (4F) was retrieving her chakram from the now lifeless Antoine’s (7M) chest. That Career killed one of my allies.
And I wasn’t in a good mood.
Growling, I charged at Sabrina, who had already noticed me coming. She prepared her chakram, moving backwards to get a better aim and to outrun me if necessary, but I wouldn’t let her do it. Not after she killed Antoine.
She launched her chakram as I attempted dodging it. It grazed my shoulder, but it wasn’t fatal.
Now realising what had happened, Sabrina made for a sprint, but I had managed to corner her. I lodged my spear where her head should have been, but she ducked just in time.
We could’ve done that for hours, but I wasn’t leaving until that damned Career was dead.
Kasha Sewall, District Thirteen Female
After I’d gotten a pack as well as my favoured weapon, a shiv, I was about to meet my allies at the outskirts of the Cornucopia when I noticed one of them in a fight. Maverick (4M) was trying to kill his District partner, the Career from District Four. Both of them were standing over Antoine’s (7M) corpse. Sabrina (4F), despite being cornered, was doing a good job at dodging Maverick’s spear repeatedly, but wasn’t doing very well getting away from him. If this continued, she could easily get the upper hand and finish off Maverick, and I couldn’t let that happen to my ally.
I couldn’t run up to those two directly, since it was a short distance away. However, walking through that short distance, someone else could easily get in my way and force me to fight them.
A plan formulated in my head, and I aimed my shiv right at Sabrina. If things went right, she’d be dead, and my allies and I could run off.
However, it was hard to aim with their constant moving. I took a deep breath and let the shiv fly.
The shiv hit Maverick square in the head, and he dropped like a fly.
I clasped my now empty hands over my mouth to stifle a scream.
I just killed my ally.
How could I have killed my own ally?
A sudden pain seared through my chest. In my moment of shock, I didn’t even realise Sabrina had advanced towards me and burrowed her chakram in my chest.
“I’d offer to let you into our alliance,” mumbled Sabrina in an oddly sorrowful and puzzled tone, “but I think you tried to kill me.” She took out her chakram out of me.
Hands still covering my mouth, I fell backwards onto the ground, the empty sky being the last thing I saw.
Francis Faux, District Six Male
Finn (9M) had never left my side, just how I had instructed him to. If things kept up like this, we would have had a chance to survive the bloodbath.
“Francis,” muttered Finn, “I think it’s high time we leave the bloodbath before anything else happens.”
I nodded, before realising he probably couldn’t see me nod. “Yeah.”
I looked up ahead. Rodeo (CM) was, uh, valiantly running away and shouting how evil the Career chasing him was. Hazel (9F) was standing next to the skittish Lilah (8F), leaving Canary (12F), Finn and I the last ones to get to the outskirts.
While looking around for Flicker (10M), I realised he had died.
One of ours was already down. Damn it.
“Alright,” I told my brother, “move with me to towards the east. The others are waiting for us—”
Finn suddenly made a strangling noise. He crumbled to the ground before I could turn and see the knife embedded in his throat.
He wasn’t dead.
Finn wasn’t dead.
“What’s the matter, shorty?” called out his killer. I glared at who it was—James Desmond (5M). “Upset I killed Gardening Freak?”
“Aww, Napoleon,” James continued taunting, “are you mad I killed your brother?”
That was it.
Wielding a cutlass, I charged at that bastard. He was too busy laughing to notice me knock him to the ground and jab my cutlass into his gut.
I pulled it out. It already made a deep cut. I grabbed him by the shirt and forced his head under a see-saw. I brought down the end of the see-saw onto his head hard, lifting it again and bringing it down. He was already dead, but I wasn’t going to stop. I lifted it up again. Brought it down. Lifted it up. Brought it down. Lifted it up—
In my fit of rage, I’d ignored Canary’s voice repeatedly calling me. I turned to face my ally.
“We’re leaving this massacre now,” she explained. “Let’s get the hell out of here.”
I nodded, gritting my teeth. I looked at James one last time, not daring to glance at my dead brother’s body, before leaving with Canary.
Hazel Maize, District Nine Female
Night had fallen completely by the time the five of us reached an old hospital. We were sitting at its lobby as everyone accounted injuries and supplies.
Cannons began booming, signifying the end of the bloodbath. I counted the cannons.
One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten.
Ten tributes were killed in the bloodbath, and two of them were our allies. Twenty-eight tributes remained, and out of them, twenty-three were enemies.
I took in a deep breath and let it out. I survived the bloodbath.
“Alright,” said Canary (12F), bringing everyone’s attention together. Even though Francis (6M) was the unanimously voted leader, Canary was the one speaking. Maybe that was because Francis wasn’t in the best mental state. “We’ve got seven loaves of bread, two canteens full of water, one empty canteen, some rope, and your respective weapons.”
I looked at my sickle. Francis had his cutlass which was already stained with blood, and Canary had her knives wiped clean, leaving Lilah (8F) and Rodeo (CM) the only weaponless ones.
Upon noticing this, Canary tossed one of her knives to Lilah, who caught it and muttered a quick thank-you. “We’ll find something for you, Rodeo,” said Canary.
Rodeo nodded, not too bothered since he didn’t like using weapons, anyway. “So, what’s our plan now?”
At that very moment, the anthem began to play. I walked over to a musty window and opened it for everyone to see.
The first one to show up was the boy from District Zero. I expected him to die early on, since he’d never made any effort during training to even pick up a weapon.
The next one was Maverick (4M), the leader of his own alliance. From what I recalled, his ally had accidentally killed him.
The third one to appear was James (5M). Francis scoffed. From what I heard from Canary, we all knew what had happened.
The girl from District Six was next. After her was Antoine (7M), part of Maverick’s alliance.
Finn (9M) was the next to show up. Francis clenched his fists. He wasn’t taking the death of his brother very well. I couldn’t blame him.
After Finn came Flicker (10M), another one of our allies. The District Ten Female and District Eleven Male showed up respectively. The first got blown up, and the latter was killed by Canary.
The last tribute to appear was Kasha (13F), meaning Maverick’s alliance of five was now reduced to two.
The anthem ended, and the sky turned dark once more.
I let out a sigh of relief. Not only did I survive the bloodbath, but the first day as well.
Without any warning, thunderous tremors started shaking the earth. I quickly grabbed hold of the edge of a counter, trying to keep my balance. Rodeo nearly fell over before catching himself. The other three sat or stood firmly. A few objects fell off the counter, and a glass vial cutting my foot as it broke, causing me to flinch.
The earthquake came to an end.
“What was that all about?” asked Rodeo.
“The arena’s supposed to change at midnight,” answered Lilah, rolling her eyes. That was odd, because she was pretty quiet and skittish a few moments ago. I decided not to question it.
“I’ll keep first watch,” declared Canary. No one objected, myself included.
I decided to get some sleep.
After all, it might as well have been the last time I slept.
Night Two: Illusory Moon
Mercury Kwildor, District Two Male
When I opened my eyes, I was surprised to be met with darkness. At first, I thought I’d awoken in the middle of the night. Then, I realised that I was in a Hunger Games where there would be no more daylight.
I quickly got up and grabbed my spear, just in case. I looked around me and found my fellow Careers still asleep. Had no one been keeping watch in the last few hours?
Considering I couldn’t tell the time, I decided to wake them up.
I walked over to Brighton (1M) first, poking his shoulder.
“Two more minutes,” he groaned.
I poked him again and he finally opened his eyes, finally realising he was in the Hunger Games.
“Oh!” Brighton quickly got up. “Uh, sorry about that.”
Soon, the others began waking up, reaching for their weapons and coming together in a circle to discuss the next course of action.
“So,” began Eugene (14M), “I believe we should figure out who the leader of our alliance should be.”
Caboose (3M) snorted. “As long as it’s not an evil baby.”
“What?” Scarlett (1F) tilted her head in confusion.
“Anyway,” continued Eugene, “if no one’s up for it, I’ll be the leader.”
Surprisingly, no one objected or retorted about being the leader themself. That was pretty odd considering in most Games, Careers would always argue about who the leader should’ve been.
Eugene looked at each of us individually. “No one? Alright, I guess I’m the leader.” He walked over to Sabrina (4F). “Sabrina, why don’t you be the second-in-command? After all, you’ve gotten two kills in the bloodbath.”
“Sure, Eugene.” Sabrina shrugged as if that didn’t matter so much.
“Just call me Geno.” Geno stood at the center once more. “I think our first course of action should be hunting down tributes already. Seeing as it’ll always be dark in these Games, the faster we do this, the better chance we have at survival. Someone needs to stay back at the Cornucopia and watch our supplies. Sabrina, Brighton, Mercury, Rio, Scarlett and Jacob, you and I are going to hunt down tributes, starting now.”
“What about me?” Caboose asked, rather aggressively. Genevieve (2F), who had been rather quiet the entire time, said nothing about her exclusion.
“You and Genevieve can look after the Cornucopia while we’re gone,” explained Geno. Genevieve said nothing, while Caboose agreed to it, although he didn’t sound too happy.
“Well,” said Geno, picking up his snake-sword, “shall we?”
Sabrina, Rio (14F), Scarlett and Jacob (12M) were the first to follow Geno out of the Cornucopia. I waited for Brighton as he grabbed his twin spatha.
“We should follow the others out,” commented Brighton. “Don’t want to get lost.” I nodded as we left together, leaving two of our allies behind at the Cornucopia.
Lindell Brocklehurst, District Seven Female
Our alliance was having the worst luck.
First of all, not only was our leader dead, but so were two more of our allies, one killing Maverick (4M) by accident.
Second, Bellum (13M) and I were only able to get one measly pack altogether. It contained enough food for the two of us to survive for a couple of days, which was very good. It also contained an empty canteen and some rope. I didn’t know what we could use the rope for.
Lastly, Bellum wasn’t the greatest ally. I was hoping the other three—Maverick, Antoine (7M) and Kasha (13F)—would have survived. Maverick was the one who had invited me into this alliance, and Kasha had been very nice to me. Despite being distant and sort of creepy, Antoine was my District partner and he was still better than Bellum.
I couldn’t afford to complain, though. Things could have been much worse, but I was still hopeful. We could survive if we tried hard enough.
Bellum and I had been sitting inside an abandoned apartment building, unsure of what to do next. It was dusty, and there were no supplies inside. The windows were broken, but that let the suffocating atmosphere be replaced by some fresh air. Well, as fresh as air could get in this arena.
I missed District Seven. I missed the forests there, and I missed being home. Now, I was just stuck in a murderous game.
I could do it, though. I could survive. I knew it.
“So,” I started, trying to start a conversation with Bellum. We hadn’t talked much since we had entered this building. “What do you think we should do next?”
Bellum shrugged. “Who cares? As long as we’re still here and no one attacks us, we’re fine.”
I didn’t think that was a good plan at all. “But we should have a back-up plan in case something—”
“Oh, shut up, you’re, like, fifteen,” Bellum interrupted.
I blinked. I didn’t know what to say to that. “Well, age doesn’t have anything to do with—”
Footsteps echoed in the corridor outside the door. Bellum and I both shut up and turned our attention to it.
I wasn’t prepared for a fight. Bellum seemed eager for one, despite being weaponless.
He looked at me and put a finger to his lip, as if I had to be told twice to keep quiet.
He tiptoed to our door as the footsteps grew louder and definitely came closer.
I didn’t want to fight.
The footsteps stopped at the door.
Without warning, Bellum opened it.
Talia Mignonette, District Five Female
The gymnasium was dark and dusty, but it provided shelter that was good enough. I hadn’t managed to get anything from the bloodbath, which wasn’t good at all. Fortunately, I was able to find some bandages and medicine from one of the first-aid kits, but that was it.
Since I’d gotten here and closed as many doors (minus the broken ones) I could find, I’d felt a little safer. I’d begun to start sketching on the walls with my pencil—the token I’d brought from District Five.
I’d used to make paintings of tributes from District Five, but now, I was one of them.
Ah, irony, my worst enemy.
I wasn’t paying attention to what I was scrawling on the walls. My hand had a mind of its own. It wasn’t until I looked back at it when I recognised a familiar face.
It was my mother, outlined in black on a white wall.
I smiled wistfully. I missed her. I missed my friends. I missed Vivienne.
If I managed to come out of the Games alive, then not only would my art career skyrocket, but I’d be able to afford medication for my mother.
As long as I kept that hope up, I could do it.
I let the sketch of my mother be, and I started walking to a different room when I heard a door open loudly.
Immediately on guard, I slipped my pencil into a pocket of my outfit and started tiptoeing away from where the noise came from. I wasn’t in any condition to fight, and looking for the source of the noise would be suicide.
Unfortunately, whoever it was making all that racket was able to come in pretty fast. I hid behind a treadmill at the corner of the room, peering into the room to see what was going on.
Through the door that led to the room I was stuck in came a loner, Grant (8M). That was even worse for me. He was burly and, from what I’d seen of him during training, incredibly strong. My only options were to face him and die or to run away stealthily. Avoiding conflict would be the best bet for me in the Games.
Grant was carrying a pack and had a tomahawk in hand. He was walking through the gymnasium, unaware of the fact it was inhabited by someone else.
I decided to book it the second he left the room. As he opened another door, I crept out of my hiding spot, only to have a tomahawk lodge itself into the wall right in front of my face.
I began running for my life, busting through doors in order to get away from Grant, who was undoubtedly faster than me. I had to think of something. I could leave the gymnasium entirely, or I could find another hiding spot, but that would—
Grant interrupted my trail of thought by catching up to my again and launching his tomahawk once more. This time, it didn’t miss its target as it grazed my shoulder. I continued to run.
Eventually, I made it to the room with an enormous swimming pool, the waters of which were so murky that I could barely see much of it.
I knew better than to jump into that pool and hide.
Grant had caught up, and my heart began pounding. There wasn’t any direction I could run to, since behind me was the pool and in front of me was a tribute eager for blood.
Grant was finally able to get hold of me, throwing me to the ground. Unfortunately, that caused both of us to slip and tumble into the pool.
I tried opening my eyes, but all I saw was blackness. Before it could start stinging my eyes, I closed them and attempted swimming to the surface. Physical activity was not my strength at all, and it drained all of my energy to swim upwards. My lungs began to burn from holding my breath for so long, and I heard my own cannon boom.
But I broke to the surface and gasped for air, clutching the edge of the pool and quickly getting up, coughing out some of the water that I’d swallowed by accident.
If that cannon wasn’t mine, whose was it?
My eyes drifted to the pool, and the answer was there. Grant’s still body floated on the surface of the water.
It had never occurred to me that he couldn’t swim.
Did that mean I killed him?
I didn’t want to think about that. As his body drifted towards me, I quickly grabbed his pack and bolted out of the room.
What was done was done.
Rosalind Bree, District Three Female
From what I’d seen in training, I didn’t think many tributes would appreciate finding rope in their packs. I, however, was delighted to find some in mine.
I hadn’t gone too far from the Cornucopia. In fact, I was standing in an alleyway, making a few adjustments to my trap. However, it wasn’t a trap to catch animals for food. After all, there would be no animals in this arena.
This was a trap for tributes.
It was a fairly simple and basic one. It was such a typical trap that I didn’t think people would actually think something like this would exist in these Games.
The trap worked like this.
Someone, likely in a hurry, would start running through the alleyway in order to get away from their attacker. In their hurry, they wouldn’t notice the line of rope, and they would trip over it. That would trigger a shower of glass shards, courtesy of many broken windows, to rain over the tribute.
The only problem was that I wasn’t sure it could kill someone. With the right area of the glass and the force exerted on it, it could create enough pressure to pierce through someone, causing injuries severe enough to kill.
I should stop explaining the trap and let the trap explain itself when someone would actually show up.
I wasn’t doing much. I was hiding in a café whose outer wall was attached to my trap. I peered out through its now non-existent window. (I broke this window for the glass shards in my trap. It was the most convenient glass I could find.)
In case things didn’t work out, I was armed with a makeshift dagger. Well, it wasn’t really a dagger. It was just a slightly larger piece of glass. I wrapped a bit of the edges of it with some cloth, using it as the handle as I didn’t want to cut myself. In spit of the fact I had a weapon, I couldn’t use a dagger anyway.
The only thing to do now was wait.
So I waited.
And a tribute finally came.
Except it wasn’t one tribute.
It was a pack of Careers.
And I was probably going to die.
“Don’t you think it’s weird we haven’t found another tribute yet?” asked a voice that I recognised as Jacob (12M).
There was a short laugh, one that belonged to Eugene (14M). “We’ve only been hunting for two hours. It isn’t that easy to come across a tribute in such a large arena, especially when a lot of the tributes are right here.”
They all finally came into view. I counted how many I saw. There were seven of them, and that meant they had two less. Maybe they were left behind to guard the Cornucopia.
“Well,” commented Scarlett (1F) disinterestedly, “we should continue walking, then.”
Yes. Good. Keep walking. Walk straight into my trap, I thought.
Besides, it was dark. They probably wouldn’t be able to see it.
They came closer and closer to my trap.
“We should check out what’s inside that café, first,” commented Rio (14F) just before they entered the alleyway.
I heard the café door open. It was time to initiate Plan C.
As soon as the Careers stepped into the café, Brighton (1M) launched an arrow at me. I jumped out the window and began to run, quickly jumping over my own trap.
“After her!” called out Eugene, but the others didn’t need to be told twice.
The first one to go after me was Jacob. I looked behind me for a split second to see him trip over the rope. He fell to the ground face-first, and before he realised what was happening, dangerous bits of glass rained down on him, tainting him, the shards and the ground with red. His cry of pain was silenced by a cannon.
Well, at least now I knew the trap was effective.
My short moment of victory was over as the rest of the Careers continued chasing me, leaving behind Jacob’s still-bleeding corpse.
I yelped in pain as a knife pierced my shoulder, but I didn’t dare slow down. I glanced back to see Scarlett preparing to throw another knife at me.
The second knife missed, but Brighton’s arrow embedded itself in my leg, automatically slowing me down.
Mercury (2M) attempted to spear me, but I quickly sidestepped. I couldn’t keep running forever. Eventually, I was going to pass out.
In a rush, I threw my excuse of a dagger at them to distract them, but I missed, which was expected.
Fortunately, even though it didn’t hurt them, it distracted them for a split second, and a second was long enough for me to run to the right into a different alley. The Careers ran past me.
I let out a sigh of relief and collapsed onto the ground, only to hear the unsheathing of a knife. I looked up and saw the girl from District Zero—Novaya (0F), I thought—staring down at me coldly.
“They’re coming,” I managed to say before passing out.
Bellum Bliston, District Thirteen Male
As soon as I yanked the door open, I was about to launch myself… onto a certain pink-haired girl who posed no threat.
“Oh! Hi, I didn’t think anyone would be inside,” Coco (CF) piped up.
I might not have been the strongest tribute in the arena, but I was sure I could take this idiot down in an instant. The second I was about to lock my hands around her neck and strangle her, someone gripped my arm, holding me back.
I glared at my unfortunate ally. “What the hell are you doing?”
Lindell (7F) replied with gritted teeth, “Stop being so rash and attacking everyone you see! Three of our allies died in the bloodbath and we’re the only two left. We need all the allies we can get.”
I didn’t want to admit she was right, and so I didn’t. I merely growled at Lindell.
“Uh, are you two just going to keep arguing?” Coco intervened.
Lindell turned to Coco with a smile. “You’re the girl from the Capitol, right? Coco?”
Coco nodded. “That’s me!”
“Do you want to ally with us?” continued Lindell.
I snarled. “We’re not going to ally with an oblivious, ditzy—”
“Sure!” Coco grinned, not paying attention to me. Then again, neither was Lindell.
Lindell glanced at me, with a raised eyebrow.
I scoffed. “Whatever.” I swatted her hand away from my arm and turned to Coco. “Well, since you’re an ally now, are you useful or have any supplies for us, or are you going to be dead weight—”
“I’ve got a large pack and a few weapons,” interrupted Coco, bringing out a whip. “I’ve a knife, but I don’t really use one.”
“I could use a knife,” both Lindell and I said in unison. I glared at her. She tilted her head.
“Well, good thing I have two!” Coco tossed each of us a knife, one of which I caught. I turned it over, smirking at its gleaming blade and sharp edge.
“There’s also tons of food in this,” continued Coco. “It would’ve lasted me a week, so I guess it could last us at least three days. Some warm clothes are also in this—do you think the arena could get cold? In any case, it’s good to have.”
Maybe having Coco on our side wasn’t such a bad idea.
Lindell smiled. “Thank you so much, Coco! We’re glad to have you in our alliance!”
“Well, thanks for letting me in!” Coco grinned.
I looked out through the broken window. A blanket of darkness covered the city, letting the only source of light be the moon.
But I knew that was fake, too.
Sabrina Clemency, District Four Female
“Where did she run off to?” asked Rio (14F).
Finally, Geno (14M) came to a halt, and so did the rest of us. We had been looking for Rosalind (3F) for a while now, but the girl disappeared without a trace.
“We lost her,” grumbled Geno. “We lost that tribute, and we also lost Jacob. There was absolutely no benefit to this whatsoever.”
“Relax,” started Scarlett (1F), “that Rose person is bound to die with those injuries. As for Jacob, he was from District Twelve. Did you really expect him to survive that long?”
“Well, of course, you’d be saying that of all people!” Geno shouted all of a sudden. Brighton (1M), Mercury (2M), Rio and I took a step backwards, bewildered at Geno’s sudden outburst. I’d never expected him to do something like that.
Oddly enough, Scarlett seemed unfazed. She didn’t even flinch. She merely narrowed her eyes at Geno, as if carefully studying every bit of his behaviour. She, however, didn’t say another word.
“We should head back to the Cornucopia,” I said quietly to get rid of the tension hanging in the air.
Geno turned to look at me, and I began wondering if speaking up was a good idea.
After a moment of silence, Geno simply replied, “You’re right. Let’s head on.”
He began walking to the direction of the Cornucopia when the Capitol’s anthem began playing.
Sure enough, the deceased tributes lit up the sky.
The first one to show up was Grant Sawyer (8M). I had expected him to survive longer, but it was too late for that.
The next face glowing in the sky was our own ally, Jacob (12M). I could hear Geno hiss when he showed up.
The anthem ended abruptly. It looked like only two tributes died today.
The six of us continued walking, finding an area with many dead trees, the leaves of which littered the ground. It was probably the only area with plant life, and even so, it was very small. A few yards through it would lead us into the Cornucopia.
The ground began shaking, and we all stopped moving until the tremors stopped.
“Looks like the arena changed once more,” commented Mercury (2M).
As we walked, I glanced to my far right.
Louise was hanging from her bleeding wrists tied to a tree.
I let out a scream.
“Are you alright?” asked Brighton (1M) shaking my shoulders. “What happened? What are you looking at?”
I looked at him, and then back at Louise, except she was gone. There was no blood, there was no dead body; there was only a regular tree.
“She…” That was all I managed to say. I blinked rapidly. The tree was still normal.
“The arena’s taking a toll on you,” explained Geno, who continued walking forwards. “You’re just seeing things. Don’t trust the illusions. Ugh, where is the damn Cornucopia?”
The others noticed this as well. It would normally take less than a minute to cross through the trees to get to the Cornucopia, but we had been walking for five.
Mercury suddenly stopped. “Oh. Right. The arena changes, remember? The path to the Cornucopia isn’t the same one, and I’m guessing this small area of trees just grew much larger.”
I braced myself for what he was going to say next.
Mercury bit his lip. “In other words, we’re lost.”
Night Three: Surreality
Posia Courtier, District Eleven Female
In my opinion, I thought I was better off than most tributes. Not only had I gotten a kill during the bloodbath, but I’d also gotten throwing knives and a pack full of food, rope and warm clothes. Considering it was permanently night and therefore going to get very cold, the clothes were a good addition.
I had made myself a shelter in an old building next to a hospital. I would’ve gone to the hospital itself, but I had stopped myself when I’d heard voices discussing amongst themselves—voices that belonged to the anti-Careers. Since then, I’d been spying on their conversations.
I had managed to survive the past two days by doing so, so it was definitely a good plan.
“Francis, tell me again why we’re doing nothing except staying put?” asked someone whose voice I recognised as Lilah’s (8F).
Somebody grumbled and muttered something under their breath. “Let the tributes come to us rather than us go to them,” said Francis (6M) in reply. “That’s the best way to get rid of enemies.”
“Lilah, why do you want to go out and kill tributes so badly?” asked Rodeo (CM).
I could tell Lilah felt uncomfortable. “I don’t,” she said quickly. “It’s just that staying put and doing nothing feels rather unproductive. We could go and look for supplies, like berries.”
Canary (12F) clicked her tongue. “I doubt there would be berry bushes in a post-apocalyptic city.”
While I was overhearing their conversation, there was a clattering noise that distracted me. I quickly turned around, but I saw no movement. I returned my attention to the anti-Careers, but there was a sudden crash and the sound of shattering glass coming from somewhere very close to me.
In fact, it was loud enough to grasp the anti-Careers’ attention.
Now on alert, Canary asked, “What was that?”
“Let’s follow it.” Francis stood up, gripping his cutlass tightly. “Rodeo, Lilah, Hazel, stay here as back-up. If you hear any yells from Canary or me, that’s when you move. Until then, stay put. Canary, come with me.”
Canary followed Francis outside, and I knew for a fact they were coming into the building I was in. I decided to quickly slip out of it before they arrived.
Now outside, I looked for a better place to hide when I noticed him.
I couldn’t tell who it was, but the moonlight shone on him as he ran down the street. I wasn’t sure who he was, but I knew for a fact it was the tribute who made that ruckus that caught the anti-Careers’ attention.
I decided to chase after him, seeing as he ruined my perfect hiding place.
Running fast yet as stealthily as I could in this state, I followed his footsteps. It was evident that he didn’t know I was after him. All the better for me.
Once I got close enough to this mysterious tribute, I chucked a knife at him. It him in the leg and he collapsed to the ground. I ran to him to finish the job, taking out another knife and quickly sinking it into the back of his head to give him a painless death.
There was no cannon. Did he survive a fatal blow like that?
Puzzled, I pulled my knife out and turned his head around to see his face.
The lifeless face of my brother.
I covered my mouth and stifled a scream, quickly stepping away from him in horror of what I’d done.
I didn’t kill him.
I didn’t kill you, no.
I never meant to kill you. The poison was supposed to kill the serial killer, not you!
It was a mistake! I didn’t mean to kill you! Why would I ever want to kill you, my own brother? I admired you the most, and it was a mistake, and, and—
I realised I was shouting out loud. Covering my mouth, I looked around to see if anyone heard me. In such close proximity with the anti-Careers, it was likely they did, meaning it wasn’t safe for me here.
Before I could run, I suddenly felt strangled and fell to my knees, gasping for air. Hands tightly grasped my neck, squeezing it and cutting off my air supply. I looked up and saw the smiling face of none other than the serial killer himself—my sadistic adoptive brother. The one who wanted my biological brother dead.
“You meant to kill me, right?” he asked, tightening his grip around my neck. “You must have forgotten, Posia.”
The serial killer pulled out a knife and brought it to my throat. I tried to scream for help, or for anything at all, but no sound came out.
“I’m always two steps ahead.”
The knife burrowed itself into my throat, slitting it open and letting the blood and life drain out of me.
Lilah Jöllenbeck, District Six Female
After Canary (12F) and Francis (6M) had left to investigate the noise, Rodeo (CM), Hazel (9F) and I were left alone in silence.
“Well, I’m surprised they didn’t bring me along,” commented Rodeo to break the silence. No one really responded.
Truthfully, none of us were friends. We were in a game where people had to kill each other to win. We all knew that at one point, we would all get killed, and if not, we’d have to kill each other.
Hey! That’s a good idea. Kill those two idiots in this room with you.
Violet was back with her malicious thoughts, and I didn’t like it one bit.
“Get out, Violet,” I muttered through gritted teeth.
“Did you say something, Lilah?” asked Hazel.
I quickly shook my head. “I’m fine.”
See, this was why I wanted to go get berries to use as an alternative to antipsychotics.
You know, continued Violet, your allies are already suspicious of you. They’ll hate you even more if you kill one of them. You don’t deserve love or support from any of them, and you don’t deserve Ashton’s love, especially since you let him die—
“Shut up, shut up!” I shouted, grabbing my own head tightly. There was a pain in my arm, and I looked at my wrist to see I’d made a few cuts on it with my knife without realising it.
“Are you sure you’re alright?” asked Hazel, both concerned for and intimidated by me.
“It’s the arena’s hallucinations,” I lied. “I’ll be fine in a few minutes.”
Fine? More like stabbing them to death—
Shut it, Violet.
Hazel bit her lip. “I’m going to go outside for a few minutes to listen for Canary or Francis.”
On that note, Hazel left the room, leaving me alone with Rodeo.
Both of us were silent for a few moments, until someone started laughing maniacally.
At first, I thought it was Rodeo, but I realised the voice was feminine, and very, very familiar.
I slowly turned around to see a girl who was definitely not a tribute laughing in the corner of the room. I’d never seen her in person, but I recognised her immediately.
“Missed me?” asked Violet.
“No.” I started backing away. “Get away!”
Violet kept coming closer to me, now with my knife in her hand. When I looked at my hand, there was a knife there, too. Then who had the real knife?
Still smiling sadistically, Violet brought down her knife onto her own wrists, but that action pained my wrists instead of hers, and soon, they were spilling blood.
“Stop it!” I screamed.
“I’m not doing anything to you,” she said. “You’re doing it to yourself. You just can’t tell apart yourself from me.”
I looked at my bloody hands again. Violet was right—I was the one who cut them open, but I didn’t remember doing that.
“Now,” continued Violet, hysterically laughing, “you’re going to die by your own hands and rot in hell where you belong. At least you’ll see Ashton again!”
That was the last straw.
I launched my knife at her, and it hit her in the shoulder. She stumbled and fell, and that was when I jumped atop of her, wrapping my hands around her neck.
Violet couldn’t speak anymore as I strangled her to death. I was never going to deal with her again.
Violet stopped struggling, and I started giggling. She was gone. She was finally gone.
A cannon boomed, and Violet’s laughter reappeared. I looked over my shoulder to see her standing at the door, very much alive. “Oh, Lilah, you’ve always been so stupid.”
I looked at the body I was strangling, and then I saw my hands gripping Rodeo’s throat.
I stifled a scream.
I looked back at Violet, except she disappeared, and a horrified Hazel was standing in her place.
“Lilah?” she whispered, hands still covering her mouth.
I looked at Rodeo’s dead body, then back at Hazel. I shook my head rapidly and desperately. “This isn’t what it looks like, I swear. I didn’t kill him—wait, Hazel!”
But Hazel had already taken off as she ran out the door.
Novaya Gates, District Zero Female
The strange tribute passed out on the ground before I could even kill her. Go figure. Looking at her wounds, she would probably die from blood loss or an infection. It would be more useful to snag a kill.
Before doing so, I looked around the vicinity to make sure no one would sneak up on me. It was isolated, which was perfect. I didn’t like being around people, anyway.
I went back to Rosalind (3F), who began to wake up. Before she was fully aware of it, I placed my knife against her throat, and that was when she became fully conscious.
“Wait, wait, wait!” she whispered quickly and almost desperately.
I raised an eyebrow, but my knife still remained at her throat. “Give me one good reason not to kill you right now.”
“If you kill me now,” continued Rosalind, breathing heavily, “a cannon will sound, alerting the Careers of your whereabouts.”
I frowned. I couldn’t tell if she was making it up or not. “How’s that supposed to happen?”
“Trust me, I’m from District Three.” Rosalind clutched one of her wounds. “Besides, loners tend to die easily. I mean—” she gestured to herself, “—this is enough evidence. We’re both loners, and loners are the most hunted. If we’re in an alliance, we’d be twice as more powerful. With your weapon skills and my traps, we’d be an unstoppable duo.”
Rosalind was starting to sound like an advertisement, and I was beginning to get bored of her spiel. Before I could plunge my knife into her throat, she stopped me again.
“Hold on!” Rosalind exclaimed. “Answer this simple question for me: do you want to die?”
I narrowed my eyes at her. “No.”
“Then keep me around. I’m your best bet at survival,” she insisted.
I clicked my tongue, mentally scolding myself for even taking this into consideration. On one hand, I didn’t like being around other people. I mean, Rosalind was almost annoying. On the other hand, she had good points. An ally meant one less enemy—temporarily, of course. But every life was also temporary, so what was the difference?
“Fine.” I retracted my knife away from her. Rosalind looked relieved. “But if something happens, I won’t hesitate to leave you behind.”
Or kill you, I stopped myself from adding.
Rosalind breathed a sigh of relief. She then attempted to sit up, but her wounds restrained her. “Uh, a little help here?”
I ignored her and walked towards a dumpster, getting atop it so I could see the arena slightly more clearly.
“Okay then,” Rosalind muttered. She eventually managed to get up herself and tend to her own wounds, using scraps of her own clothes to patch them up. I continued gazing at this broken city. I hated it. Instead, I looked up at the stars. With so much light pollution, it was a miracle I was able to see even one star.
They reminded me of the times I escaped to a shack in the snowy woods of District Zero. I went there to isolate myself from my abusive step-father, and eventually, the loneliness turned into comfort. I only ever learnt how to use a tomahawk and throw knives just to relieve myself from the stress seeping into my life since my mother married that monster. He was also the reason I didn’t mind getting reaped for the Hunger Games.
Talking about it like that almost made it seem sad, but the damage had already been done years ago.
I wouldn’t be trusting someone any time soon.
Michael Caboose, District Three Male
For the past two days, I’d been stuck with Genevieve (2F). She was too quiet, but not in the reserved kind of way. She was quiet in the creepy silent type way, and I didn’t like her.
“Where is everyone?” I asked angrily without facing Genevieve. “Weren’t the others supposed to be back by the end of last night?”
“The arena probably changed its shape and they got lost.” The few times Genevieve spoke, her voice felt like ice.
She was creepy.
The arena changing was stupid. I didn’t like it. It was almost as stupid as Lavernius Tucker.
Stupid Tucker. Stupid babies. Stupid Red Team. Stupid Genevieve. Stupid Hunger Games.
Why did I have to be reaped?
“Caboose, did you see that?” Genevieve asked all of a sudden. She pointed to the short row of trees separating the Cornucopia from the rest of the arena.
I quickly turned to look, but there was nothing different. I peered closer. No, it was definitely the same as it was two days ago.
I turned to Genevieve again. “I don’t see anything. What are you talking about—”
Genevieve smacked me on the chest with the hilt of her katana, knocking me to the ground. That was when I realised what was happening.
I growled. “You traitorous—”
I rolled away before she could stab down with her katana.
“It’s not like I’m betraying the Careers,” said Genevieve, swiping her weapon where I was standing two seconds ago, “I’m just getting rid of dead weight and narrowing the competition down further.”
I quickly dashed to my bow before the murderous tribute could slash me into bits of flesh. Grabbing it, I quickly launched an arrow at her and continued to run. I needed distance to use a bow.
Genevieve didn’t even dodge my arrow. She simple slashed it to two before it could hit her.
A sadist and a show-off. Go figure.
“Besides, Caboose,” continued Genevieve, chasing me, “what more are you than an adult baby from District Three?” She swiped at my legs, but I jumped just in time. I nocked an arrow which she skilfully dodged.
Distance. I needed distance.
“So, it’d be helpful if you could just die already!” I could tell Genevieve was enraged.
I started running and thinking about the things I don’t like. Think about evil babies. Flesh-eating kittens. Emails with stupid emoticons. Red Team. Sadistic murderers with katanas.
“And you know what’s going to happen after you die?” called out Genevieve as I continued running. “I’ll tell the Careers that the unhinged kid from District Three tried maiming me! ‘It was self-defence; I have no idea why we took him into the alliance in the first place!’”
I couldn’t stand her anymore. I shot another arrow which she dodged.
“At least try to shoot your bow right,” Genevieve taunted.
I noticed a pattern in how she dodged. She always dodged to the right. A small plan formulated in my head.
I aimed my bow at her as she closed in. I had to be fast before she could get close enough and kill me.
I feigned a shot, and, as expected, she dodged to the right. I let the actual arrow fly to the right.
It went straight through her throat.
Genevieve’s katana was bare inches away from my neck, but she had stopped in her tracks. Everything was immobile. I didn’t move; she didn’t move.
Blood trickled down her neck, and her eyes were still widened.
She fell to the ground with a sickening thud, and a cannon boomed in the distance.
If anyone asked how she died, I was going to say Tucker did it.
Talia Mignonette, District Five Female
After the incident with Grant (8M), I didn’t think it would be safe for me to stay at the gymnasium. I ran away from there to the direction I’d originally come from.
It had been a day since I did that. The path became too unfamiliar, and then I remembered everything was in a new place because of the nightly earthquakes.
In fact, I remembered passing an old apartment building the day before. In place of it was a long, unlit road with cracks all over it.
Crossing the street, I found a dilapidated building next to a hospital. I decided to go behind the old building and check my supplies.
I looked for my drawing pencil and took it out of my pocket. Thankfully, it hadn’t fallen out during my run. I clutched it tightly.
I was going to come back from these Games alive.
Taking a deep breath, I slipped it back into my pocket and began rummaging through Grant’s supplies. He had a bunch of rope and a few loaves of bread, but a smile grew on my face when I saw what else was in it.
Although I was still without a real weapon (I cursed myself for accidentally leaving behind the tomahawk in a hurry), I could seamlessly camouflage myself into the environment.
Things were starting to look good for me.
Until I heard the screams.
They seemed to be coming from inside the building—no, the noise was coming from the road. Or was it the hospital?
No, they were coming from every single direction.
I began to run.
The screams were calling for help and pleading someone to stop, and sometimes, they even said, “You were dead! I saw you die!”
I had no idea where I was going, but I let my legs carry me to my new destination. I had to get away from the shouting, but how do you run from something that’s everywhere?
The screaming ended abruptly.
I was standing on the empty road. An infinite road stretched out in front of me, and it was mirrored behind me.
There was no noise except for the sound of my footsteps.
Someone was weeping.
I turned around.
Someone was clutching their throat with their back against a lamppost and tears drying on their face. They seemed to be choking on air.
I recognised the figure as a tribute—Posia Courtier (11F).
It seemed she was hallucinating something. Her hand was bleeding from clutching her knife too tightly. I guessed that she was the one screaming a few minutes ago.
I had no intentions of meeting another tribute. It was best to leave while she was already distracted.
When I turned around, Posia was there again, but closer this time.
I turned away, and she was still there, horror-struck with her back still against a lamppost. And I seemed to keep coming closer.
This was some sort of hallucination, wasn’t it?
I decided to walk backwards to avoid her, outsmarting the hallucination itself.
The second I did that, Posia sharply turned her head to me.
“You.” Posia had murder in her eyes. “Don’t think I didn’t see you.”
On that note, I broke into a sprint with a crazed Posia chasing me.
I knew for a fact I looked like someone else to her—someone she really wanted dead.
A sharp pain pierced my thigh. I stumbled and fell to my knees, realising she’d thrown a knife at me. Wincing, I pulled it out, and kept running. Unfortunately, I was at a disadvantage because I was now slower than Posia.
I didn’t dare look behind me as I kept running for my life.
“Agh!” Something hit the back of my head, sending me to the ground.
I turned around to see Posia pinning me to the ground. For some reason, she was still crying. She seemed terrified and vengeful at the same time.
“You.” Posia stabbed me in the stomach hard. It took all of my willpower not to scream that loudly.
“You killed too many innocent people,” she continued, jabbing her weapon into me again. “You killed my brother!”
“Stop!” I cried out, but Posia was driven insane. She kept stabbing me repeatedly, each wound bringing me closer to death. The pain was getting hard to bear. “Stop, I’m not who you think I am!”
“I saw you die,” continued Posia, “I attended your execution. I saw you get hung and get the fate you deserved! Why are you back? To taunt me?”
“It doesn’t matter.” Posia cut me off, bringing the knife to my neck. “I don’t care if you’re back here. I’ll just have to kill you myself!”
She forced her knife deep into my throat, and the screams subsided.
Posia looked puzzled, and she blinked rapidly.
“You’re not…” Posia trailed off. “Shoot.”
She snatched my pack and started running away. She turned around for a second with regret in her eyes. “I’m… sorry.”
A cannon boomed as I watched her run away with my supplies and my life.
Canary Ash, District Twelve Female
I sighed. “No sign of any tribute.”
Francis (6M) and I had peered closely at every nook and cranny of the old building next to the hospital. The loud noise had come from here, but it looked like whatever made it quickly left afterwards.
A smart move.
By the time we had finished exploring, there had been three cannons booming. I could tell it concerned Francis.
“Don’t worry,” I reassured him. “It’s probably none of our allies. There would have been shouting if it was.”
Francis grumbled something. “Let’s head back.”
We both made our way towards the hospital building, only to find Hazel (9F) running out with fear in her eyes.
“What’s the matter? What happened?” I quickly asked.
“It’s Lilah,” she muttered. “Lilah—she—” Hazel bit her lip. “Rodeo’s dead.” Without warning, Francis threw the doors open and rushed inside. I ran in after him, only to find Lilah (6F) cowering over Rodeo’s (CM) dead body.
Lilah looked terrified seeing us. “I swear; this isn’t what it looks like. I didn’t kill him. It wasn’t me. It was… it was…”
Lilah seemed to trail off. Her horrified expression slowly changed into a malicious one. “It was me.”
Breaking into hysterical laughter, this new Lilah chucked her knife with perfect accuracy at my head. I ducked just in time for it to cut off a few strands of my hair.
Lilah bolted for the stairs to the upper floors.
“Traitor!” growled Francis before chasing her.
Hazel and I both followed him up the stairs, leading us into a pursuit after Lilah.
Lilah knocked chairs and tables and anything she could find to the floor, making obstacles for us, as she kept running.
“Violet, leave me alone!” cried out Lilah in the innocent voice, but almost instantly, the maniacal laughter came back. I launched one of my knives at her, but she easily dodged it.
I knew for a fact Lilah truly wasn’t doing this on purpose.
Maybe she was hallucinating. Maybe she was fighting her own demons—literally, in this case.
Either way, it didn’t justify what she did.
For the sake of survival, she needed to die.
Francis had managed to evade Lilah’s obstacles and gotten hold of her. He pinned her to the wall with a hand at her throat.
“Wait!” insisted Lilah with desperation in her voice. There were tears running down her face. “You have to understand I didn’t do this on purpose! I’d never kill my own allies! It—It wasn’t me! It was Violet who did this! Please…”
Francis hesitated for a moment, loosening his grip on her neck for just a moment.
That was a big mistake on his behalf.
Lilah head-butted Francis, getting him away from herself. She then picked up the knife I’d thrown at her.
“No!” I shouted.
But Lilah had already dug the knife into Francis’s throat.
Ignoring the cannon, I pursued Lilah without wasting another second. She scrambled into a bathroom, locking the door before I could wedge it open.
Damn it. I looked around, noticing a cinder block on the floor. I quickly hauled it up with some effort and broke the door down with it.
Lilah, who’d been smiling at the fact she outsmarted me a few moments ago, looked at me as if I was a ghost.
“Canary, don’t,” she pleaded, but I wasn’t going to make the same mistake as Francis.
Using the cinder block, I hit Lilah on the head, sending her into a bathtub full of water. The splash of water sounded at the same as Lilah’s cannon.
I panted heavily.
She was gone forever now.
Hazel finally managed to get into this room. Upon noticing Lilah’s corpse, she just stared silently.
We both stood there silently.
I watched as Lilah’s blood diffused into the bathtub water. Her face remained in shock, her black hair floating in the bloody water.
The anthem began to play. I glanced at the dark abyss we called the sky through the window.
The first to light up the darkness was Rodeo. At least he’d been avenged.
The next was Genevieve (2F), a Career. The less Careers, the better.
The third one was Talia Mignonette (5F). As a loner, I hadn’t expected her to come this far.
Francis came up next. I bit my lip. I wouldn’t let his death be in vain. I’d lead the anti-Careers—now just a duo—to victory.
Last but not least, Lilah Jöllenbeck appeared in the night sky.
The last to die; the last to appear.
The anthem faded away, and the sky became black once more.
“Come on.” I turned to Hazel. “Let’s get out of here before the earthquakes start.”
Night Four: Alluterræmotus per Mortem
Brighton Honeycutt, District One Male
Waking up to thunderous earthquakes was not very fun. It looked like everyone else was woken up by it as well.
“What’s going on?” asked Rio (14F). “I thought the midnight earthquake was over!”
“I don’t think it’s midnight, either,” added Mercury (2M).
I looked at the shaking ground. “These tremors are way stronger than the midnight earthquakes!”
“They’re lasting longer as well,” Geno (14M) commented.
It took full five minutes for them to end.
Everyone looked at each other. No one had gotten injured or anything, which was good. However, the situation was very confusing.
The Careers had managed to get out of the strange forest from the other night, reaching a suburbia where we had taken rest. The chandelier in the living room seemed to have nearly fallen from the roof. When the earthquakes had hit, we all had run outside.
“What was that?” asked Sabrina (4F).
It was still pitch black outside, but a new voice spoke up.
“Good morning, tributes!” The chirpy voice of an announcer called out. “Well, it’s morning in the rest of Panem. Anyway, there are only fifteen of you left, so congratulations for making it this far! However, there has been a lack of bloodshed, which is why we hope this new twist encourages you all to meet others. There is a clocktower at the epicentre of the earthquakes. All tributes must get to it to live. There will be multiple earthquakes throughout the day to help you find it. You have forty-eight hours. Failure to reach the clocktower within this time will lead to your immediate death. Good luck!”
“A new twist, huh?” I commented. I looked at everyone. None of them seemed to be in a good mood after this announcement. I decided to change that. “Come on, guys! The sooner we get there, the better chance we have at winning! What are we waiting for?”
Geno nodded. “Let’s head out.” He wore a grin once more—the same one he wore before the first of our alliance died. Same old Geno was better than grumpy Geno.
Before we could leave the vicinity, a familiar figure was walking across the horizon.
Geno smirked. “Get your weapons ready.”
However, as soon as the six of us prepared to charge, I recognised the figure. “Hold on, guys, that’s Caboose!”
Sure enough, Caboose (3M) also gestured for us to stop.
Geno, upon noticing who it was, lowered his weapon but still walked towards him. “Good to see you after—what, two nights?”
The rest of us looked at each other. We all had the same question in mind: What happened to Genevieve (2F)?
Geno was the one who voiced it. “Care to explain what happened to Genevieve?”
Caboose suddenly looked alarmed. “Uh, well, she… started hallucinating. Yeah. She attacked me—” he gestured to a wound on his arm, “—so I had to fight back. She, umm, killed herself because of the hallucination.”
I took a closer look at his arm. It looked self-inflicted, but I said nothing.
Seeing as none of us responded, Caboose blinked. “Tucker did it.”
Geno rolled his eyes. “Well, you’re here now. Let’s get moving.”
Geno led us to a different path, as the rest of us followed. I noticed Sabrina purposely cut her hand with her chakram and wrap it with a gauze of cloth.
“What’s that for?” I asked.
“Just in case I hallucinate again,” she explained. “Physical pain can’t be hallucinated. It helps differentiate between what’s real and what isn’t.”
“Smart,” I commented, before continuing walking with the others.
However, another earthquake struck.
“It’s stronger this way!” Geno pointed at a direction. We all began to follow, but a telephone pole wobbled and fell right on top of Rio. She let out a cry of agony.
I bit my lip. With the earthquake still going on, it was hard to keep my balance, but I rushed towards her to help her up. She reached out her hand, but before I could pull her up, another pole fell, nearly crushing me. I jumped to the left, but it landed on Rio’s head painfully.
Her cannon confirmed the worst case scenario.
There was a second cannon. I quickly turned to see in place of where Caboose was standing were remains of a building’s wall. My eyes widened even further when I noticed Mercury trapped in the debris.
I ran towards him. His leg was stuck under a large, broken piece of a wall. Unlike Rio, I was able to help him up, but he wasn’t able to stand properly.
“Broken leg?” I asked.
Mercury nodded, wincing.
I slung his arm over my shoulder and tried making my way towards the others.
Geno had quickly pushed Sabrina out of the way of a gigantic tree falling. He looked at me and then at Mercury. “Hurry!”
I also noticed that Scarlett (1F) was smirking at the destruction around us. What was that all about?
“We need to leave,” said Geno, running to where he had pointed before. “Now!”
Coco Chanel, Capitol Female
As soon as the announcement for the new twist ended, Bellum (13M) started grumbling about something.
“Ugh,” he muttered, pacing around the dirty room. “Alright, we need to get out of here now—especially since tall buildings are no good for earthquakes.”
Lindell (7F) nodded. “Agreed.”
Huh, that was probably the first time those two agreed on something.
I slung my backpack around me, picking up my whip. Lindell attempted to grab her pack, but Bellum beat her to it, giving her a snide look.
“Hurry up.” Bellum rolled his eyes.
Lindell gripped her knife, going towards the door. “Coco?”
“Just a second.” I looked out through the non-existent window. Remains of a city stood in the distance idly. The artificial moon glowed bright, but even that wasn’t enough to light up the sky.
The eternal darkness.
I wondered if I’d ever be able to leave it.
Peering closer into the window, I looked down. I could just make out the ground.
It would be a terrifying drop.
I tore my eyes away from it. “Okay, I’m ready—”
Bellum and Lindell were gone.
The room itself was gone. Instead, I was standing somewhere else.
A very familiar place.
I took a cautious step forward. “Lindell?” Step. “Bellum?”
Why was I back here?
The whole room was completely isolated. There wasn’t any trace of life except for me. There was no sound except the one of my footsteps and my heartbeat, which was growing faster by the second.
I turned to my bed. For some unknown reason, there were bloodstains on the sheets.
I started shivering all of a sudden. “C—Cyan?”
I didn’t want to turn to the door. I knew exactly what was slumped against it.
I shut my eyes and slowly turned to the door. I didn’t want to open them.
I knew what was there.
And I didn’t want to see it.
Dreading the next few moments, I slowly opened my eyes.
And Cyan’s dead body was lying against the door.
I couldn’t scream. My body wouldn’t let me scream. My mouth made no sound.
There was a clean, shiny knife in Cyan’s hand—the same knife he used to try and kill me. There was also a bullet wound in his head.
I turned to see my mother standing with a gun pointed at Cyan.
She killed Cyan.
She killed her own son.
She killed her son for trying to murder her daughter.
What kind of family was this?
Her eyes were still on Cyan, but they then turned to me.
“Go to sleep, Coco,” she said indifferently.
Go to sleep, Coco.
Go to sleep.
Go to sleep.
G o t o s l e e p .
The voice started to become distorted as my eyes shut by themselves.
I forced them open.
Only to find myself lying in bed with my brother standing over me, a knife in hand, murder in his eyes.
And this time, I screamed.
I rolled away before he could stab down, and I proceeded to run to the other side of the room.
I remembered this situation very well.
I knew this wasn’t real. It wasn’t happening right now, at least.
I clenched my fists so hard my nails ripped into my skin, letting it bleed. There was a metallic taste in my mouth.
“Wake up, Coco,” I whimpered to myself.
I grabbed the side of my head, nearly ripping my own hair out. “Wake up.”
I proceeded to lift my head away and bang it against the wall hard. “Wake up.”
My own voice started to turn from a whisper to a shout to a cry of desperation.
“Wake up.” My head hit the wall once more. “Wake up!” I could feel blood running down the side of my head, but I wouldn’t stop. “Wake up!” I started screaming at myself.
But I kept going on.
Lindell Brocklehurst, District Seven Female
“What are you doing?” I asked Coco (CF), panicked. The girl was ramming her head into the wall repeatedly. “Coco, stop!”
“What the hell is she doing?” Bellum (13M) asked me, evidently annoyed. However, I knew even he was too intimidated to get close to Coco.
“Coco,” I said with a soft voice, “everything’s fine. You don’t need to do that. Just stop hurting yourself and we can help—”
“Wake up,” Coco started muttering to herself. Then it turned into screams. “Wake up!”
“I don’t think she can hear us,” commented Bellum.
Coco stopped banging her head into the wall. Unfortunately, she proceeded to claw at her face with her long nails, attempting to peel her skin off.
I didn’t know what to do. Attempting to comfort her did nothing, and I was afraid of making it worse.
“Coco,” I started again, “please—”
“Wake up!” Coco shouted at herself. She took her whip and wrapped it around her neck.
“No, stop!” I shouted, but Coco just made it tighter.
Bellum wasn’t doing anything about this. He just had his arms crossed and eyebrows furrowed in annoyance.
Fortunately, Coco eventually let go of the whip and went into a coughing fit. I hoped she had snapped out of her hallucination.
For a few moments, she did nothing.
“Coco?” I asked quietly.
That was a big mistake on my part.
Coco started screaming again and blindly ran towards the broken window.
Horror dawned upon me as I realised what she was about to do.
But she had already leapt out of the window into a freefall to her demise.
My hands instinctively covered my eyes. The screaming was becoming faint, until it ended completely. There was a thump—a sound of something sickeningly hitting the ground. The noise was followed by a cannon.
I didn’t dare look out the window.
I didn’t want to see my ally’s corpse lying at the bottom in a pool of blood.
I didn’t want to see Coco’s body bent in ways a body should not bend in.
I didn’t want to look.
Immediately afterwards, the ground begun shaking thunderously.
I turned to Bellum. “We need to leave—”
He knocked me to the ground and immediately pinned me down. I dropped my knife, and when I tried reaching for it, Bellum kicked it away.
“Now that that idiot is dead,” began Bellum, “it’s much easier to get rid of you.”
“What are you doing?” I shouted.
“I’m doing what’s in my best interest,” he replied. “Honestly, if it wasn’t for you and Coconut Girl, I’d have my way and have already gotten kills. But no, you two had to sit here and boondoggle idly. Luckily for me, I won’t have to put up with it anymore.”
“Get off of me,” I growled.
“I will,” said Bellum, “as soon as you’re dead.”
I struggled to get out of his grasp to no avail. His hands had both been holding my arms down, but he now moved the one with his knife to my throat.
“Any last words?” asked Bellum deviously.
With my now free hand, I punched Bellum in the jaw. In his short moment of distraction, I pushed him off of me and grabbed my knife. I snatched my pack and Coco’s one, and I bolted for the door.
“You little—” Bellum ran after me furiously.
I exited the still shaking room and ran down the corridors. Lights and chandeliers hanging from the ceiling came crashing down to the ground. I was barely able to avoid them.
I looked over my shoulder for a split second to see Bellum still chasing me. Unfortunately, he was catching up quickly.
I yelped as I tripped over a fallen table, but I quickly got up. That had given Bellum enough time to corner me.
“You shouldn’t have run away,” he muttered threateningly. “Now, it’ll just have to be more painful.”
With no other plan in mind, I stabbed Bellum in the forehead.
He was taken aback, but he made no movements.
He didn’t move again after I pushed him away.
Ignoring his cannon booming in the distance, I ran out of the apartment building about to topple over. After what just happened, I had no intention of dying to a stupid earthquake.
Novaya Gates, District Zero Female
“Most people make the mistake of tying the knot over here,” Rosalind (3F) was saying, “but the smartest place to tie it would be at the bottom of the trap. While that’s harder, it’s way more effective.”
Rosalind had been teaching me how to make traps for a while. I was paying attention carefully in case she died so I could use her supplies to my advantage.
Considering her injuries, she was probably going to die soon.
There hadn’t been much action since I had allied with Rosalind. Things had been quiet. Other tributes were dying, but none of them were me. That was the important part.
If things went south, I’d know how to save myself.
While Rosalind had been explaining her trap-making skills, an announcer’s voice interrupted her, telling every tribute in the arena about the clocktower and the earthquakes. I had a feeling there was going to be an earthquake soon.
I started packing my items. “Let’s move.”
Rosalind nodded, doing the same.
As I had predicted, tremors started rising. Considering we were in an alleyway, there would be higher chances of buildings toppling upon us.
“We need to hurry,” said Rosalind, before running (or rather limping) away. “The tremors already seem to be pretty strong, so we’re probably close already!”
That was good news. I began walking right behind Rosalind, so in case something was to pop out at us, she’d basically be my human shield.
The earthquake here was pretty strong, however. It was hard to keep my balance, and I could tell it was taking a toll on Rosalind.
Rosalind looked over her shoulder and at me with a confident grin. However, it turned into a look of horror as she shouted, “Watch out!”
I became confused. “What—”
I was pinned to the ground by broken bricks from a falling building. The pain was sudden and almost unbearable. I could barely move and it felt as if I was suffocating. I was pretty sure there was blood somewhere, but at the moment, I had no idea how to tell where it was coming from.
Rosalind looked alarmed and stood stock-still for a few moments.
For a moment, I thought she was going to leave me to die, just how I’d told her I’d do to her.
“Help,” I croaked.
She bit her lip, but she eventually walked over to me. I would have breathed a sigh of relief if I hadn’t felt like I was suffocating.
Rosalind grabbed my arms and attempted pulling me out. There wasn’t much I could do to help her.
“On three,” said Rosalind. “One, two—gah!”
She dropped my arms and grabbed her injured shoulder, falling to her knees and wincing. “I’m fine,” she muttered, despite how untrue that was.
She attempted pulling me out from under the brick wall again. If I stayed here any longer, I would probably die.
My vision was already starting to get blurry.
Fortunately, Rosalind had finally managed to pull me out of it, and she did so just in time for another piece to fall where my head had been a few seconds ago.
When I tried to walk, I nearly collapsed. I was badly injured for sure, but the worst part was that I had no idea where.
“You’ll be fine,” Rosalind reassured me. “We just need to get out of here and we’ll be golden.”
I nodded, trying to follow her.
At least we both had the same speed now.
“I have faith that we can make it to the clocktower,” said Rosalind. “We can totally do this.”
I continued following her without another word, but we both knew the truth.
I was going to die soon.
Scarlett Winters, District One Female
By the time we reached the factory, two earthquakes and a few more deaths had already occurred. Fortunately, I didn’t die. Unfortunately, no one else got seriously injured or killed. Even more unfortunately, Geno (14M) was still alive.
Not for long.
“I think it’s nearly midnight,” commented Mercury (2M). “We should probably rest here for the night—uh, the next few hours.”
Geno shook his head. “We need to get to the clocktower first. We only have a little bit over twenty-four hours left. If we want to get there, we need to move as fast as we can.”
“Mercury’s right,” said Sabrina (4F). “Finding that tower isn’t going to be easy. We need all the energy we can for tomorrow.”
Geno bit his lip and hesitated for a moment. “Alright, we can rest here for five hours.”
Five hours. Hopefully, it was enough time to finish the job.
People started putting down their equipment on the ground. Brighton (1M) walked over to one of the machines and pulled the lever. It immediately began whirring, sharp, circular blades grinding into each other loud. He quickly flipped the lever to turn it off.
“Huh,” he muttered. “I’m surprised it still works.”
I looked around. Most people were getting ready to sleep, which was perfect for me. “I’ll keep first watch.”
The second I said that, Geno glared at me for a few moments. Surprisingly, he replied, “Fine.”
I grabbed my trident and walked to the entrance of the factory. The doors were totally shut. I turned for a moment to see everyone gradually fall asleep.
So I waited.
There was total silence in the entire area. The only thing keeping me company was the sound of my own footsteps echoing on the factory floors. The eerie quiet wasn’t nearly enough to unnerve me. It would have to try harder than that.
Seconds turned into minutes. Minutes turned into hours.
An hour had already passed.
I was supposed to wake Sabrina up in a few minutes, but there was one thing left to do before that.
I quietly tiptoed to Brighton, who was fast asleep and muttering something about someone called Valentina.
I silently picked up his twin spatha. If I use someone else’s weapon, they’d be the one to blame.
Brighton would probably get killed by the rest of the Careers tomorrow.
I walked over to Geno sat down in front of him. He snored loudly. At least I wouldn’t have to deal with that any more.
Unsheathing the spatha, I brought it closer to his neck. A slit throat is a quiet murder, meaning no one else would wake up.
Before I could even press it against Geno’s neck, his eyes flew open and his hands grabbed my neck. I immediately dropped the spatha and tried to cry for help and convince the others it was Geno who attacked me first.
That didn’t work out so well.
Everyone did wake up, but they just stared at the situation, not knowing whether to help me or to do nothing and let Geno win.
Geno smiled, but his eyes burnt with hatred. “Did you really think I wouldn’t see that coming?”
I couldn’t speak. I looked at everyone, but they were all useless and did nothing to help. With his hand still crushing my neck, he turned to the others. “Ladies and gentlemen, here’s what happens to traitors.”
“I didn’t—” I broke into a cough as he pulled me to one of the machines in the factory, the same one Brighton had turned on and off earlier. My eyes widened as I realised what was about to happen.
The second Geno let go of my neck, I broke into a sprint. Unfortunately, there was nowhere to run as he pushed me into the machine which was still turned off. Some of the machinery cut me, but I wasn’t going to go down.
I attempted to get up when I heard the horrific whirring of it turning on.
Geno had flipped the lever.
The blades began spinning and cutting through my skin, flesh and scraping at my bones. Flesh and blood flew everywhere, and I kept getting dragged deeper into the grinder, deeper into a new degree of agony. There was no more skin left and my eyes had already been ripped away violently. My toes and fingers had been chopped off, but the blades of the grinder kept going until every little piece of me was reduced to a pile of flesh.
And the only thing I could do was scream.
Until everything stopped.
Mercury Kwildor, District Two Male
The rest of the careers stared at Geno (14F) in horror as Scarlett’s (1F) cannon boomed.
No one spoke another word. Her screaming still rung in my head.
“Well, then,” said Geno after the long silence, some aggression still left in his voice, “now that that’s settled, I hope you all think twice before betraying the Careers.”
Nobody responded to that. We were all thinking the same thing.
Geno was dangerous.
As he made his way across the room towards us, I didn’t dare look at the bloodied grinder. I didn’t want to look at Scarlett’s remains.
Geno stopped in front of us. I held my breath.
“We’ll be here for the next four hours, so you all better get some sleep,” he suggested. He turned directly to me. I froze.
“Mercury,” he said, “you take the next watch.”
I nodded without saying much else.
It was evident that the others were all still shaken up, but we didn’t dare press on the matter any further. Invoking Geno’s wrath would make us the next Scarlett. To avoid that, Brighton (1M) and Sabrina (4F) pretended to go to sleep. I grabbed my weapon and sat in front of the factory's entrance.
I began pondering about what had happened so far and what was going to happen. There were only four of us left now among the ten, and that meant we were the largest alliance. We’d be splitting up soon, despite what Geno had said.
I let out a sigh.
I looked out one of the few windows in this place. The moon still cast its artificial glow, and the night kept growing dark, darker, yet darker still. In a way, it was almost serene.
I had almost fallen asleep had it not been for the sound of a gunshot.
Quickly turning around, I saw that no one else had woken up. However, a small door had appeared in one of the walls. It didn’t look like it led to a room bigger than a janitor’s closet.
My leg was broken, but I could still walk in spite of how painful it was. Was it worth it? Slowly, I walked over to the door and turned the handle, bracing myself for what I was about to see next.
I opened the door to be greeted with Avan, a gun in his hand and a bullet in his head.
Avan had shot himself after being bullied for who he loved.
He was driven to suicide simply for liking guys.
My hand began trembling.
I’d already seen this before. Why was I seeing it again?
It didn’t change the fact that he was dead.
This hallucination wasn’t meant to drive me insane.
It just made me hurt again.
“Are you okay?”
“Huh?” I turned around to see Brighton looking at me quizzically. “It’s nothing. I’m fine. Uh, why are you awake?”
“I was never asleep.” Brighton shrugged. “Besides, I saw you get up with a broken leg, stare at a wall and start shaking suddenly, so I wanted to know what was wrong.”
We both stood in silence for a few moments.
“If you don’t mind me asking,” Brighton started, “why are you crying?”
“Crying?” I touched my cheek. I hadn’t even realised it was wet. I quickly wiped my face. “I didn’t even know I was…” I trailed off.
I stared at the window blankly. Brighton did the same.
Soon, the anthem began, symbolising the end of the day.
The first to show up was the girl from the Capitol, Coco Chanel (CF). It was surprising she had even managed to get this far.
The next was Scarlett, someone whose death I didn’t need to be reminded of.
Third came Caboose (3M). He was killed in the earthquake with Rio (14F), I thought.
Bellum (13M) showed up next, and the anthem ended with an image of Rio lighting the sky.
Three careers died in one day. Go figure.
“I think your shift is over,” Brighton noted. “I’ll take the next watch.”
Brighton stared at me for a moment. “Hey, if something’s bothering you, know that it all works out in the end. Even in the Hunger Games.”
I kept what he said in mind. “Thanks, Brighton.”
Before I even knew it, his lips were pressed against mine and broke away almost as fast as it happened.
Brighton’s cheek flushed a bright red, but there was alarm in his eyes as he turned away. “I—I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to do that.”
Words wouldn’t leave my mouth as I tried to reassure him, but even I didn’t know if I felt reassured. I didn’t know what to think. Blood rushed to my cheeks as Brighton quickly ran off to some other area of the factory.
Did that really happen?
I tried not to think about it. I could still hear him muttering sorry over and over again.
I wish I’d told him he didn’t need to be.
Night Five: Race to the Clocktower
Novaya Gates, District Zero Female
Even after the countless times it had happened, I never got used to the earth’s rumbling. I merely groaned as the earthquake continued, waking me up.
Every ounce of my body ached too much to give another damn.
“Morning,” said Rosalind (3F) weakly after the tremors ended.
I looked away from her. “You fell asleep while you were on watch?”
“Hey, neither of us died, so it shouldn’t matter.”
I rolled my eyes. “We need to get a move on.”
As I attempted to get up slowly and carefully, a sharp pain coursed through my back, causing me to yelp and fall back down again. This wasn’t going to be easy.
“Need help?” Rosalind offered. I ignored her and tried standing up again. I was pretty sure some part of my body was broken, but I couldn’t even tell which.
After a few minutes of struggling and holding back winces, I managed to stand up. If that was painful enough, how was I even going to walk to the clocktower?
There was no hope for me.
“Let’s go.” Rosalind pointed at a direction. “I’m pretty sure the earthquake was stronger over there. We can make it in time.”
I nodded weakly. We began walking.
Still, it didn’t hurt to keep trying. (Well, not mentally, at least.) If I gave up right then and there, then I would have definitely been dead. If I kept moving on, even if there was no way I could have survive, there would have been a chance, no matter how small, that I could’ve made it.
Even if I didn’t make it, I wasn’t going down without a fight.
If I could survive the devil of a stepfather, I could survive the Hunger Games.
I wouldn’t be taken down by an abusive father or a Capitol contraption.
If it came down to it, I’d take my own life rather than be killed in a silly game.
And that was enough to keep me going.
Rosalind and I walked in silence, passing rundown cafés, dilapidated malls and other hollow places.
“If you don’t mind me asking,” said Rosalind as we kept walking, “how was your life back in District Zero?”
“I do mind you asking,” I snapped, continuing to walk.
“Alright.” Rosalind’s tone drastically changed. It was almost angry. “Listen. We’re in a game where we’re fighting for our lives, and I know for a fact there’s less than a five percent chance I’m making it out alive, and there’s no way both of us can survive together, so I’m trying to make the most of this short-lived life as I can. You being cold and heartless helps no one, not even yourself. I’m doing what I can to get back to my routine life in District Three, and you’re trying to do the same, right? So, if you could stop being such an ass, this time we’ve spent together might not be so pointless.”
“There’s no way in hell I want to back to my old life!” I shouted.
Rosalind only stared at me. She was much more different than I thought she’d be.
Rosalind turned back to the path and continued walking. “So be it. I’m not one to waste time trying to befriend someone so emotionless.”
I glared at her.
You being cold and heartless helps no one, not even yourself.
We kept walking in a now almost painful silence.
Rosalind suddenly stopped and pointed to the sky. Immediately, her personality changed again. How unpredictable. “There. I can see the clocktower!”
I squinted. “That’s still really far away.”
“The point is,” she explained, “we can see it, so we have a clear way of getting to it.” At the perfect time, another earthquake began.
“Are you serious?” I muttered to the sky.
Rosalind trudged on forward. As I tried to take another step, I collapsed. Rosalind turned for a moment to look at me with narrowed eyebrows.
There’s no way both of us can survive.
“Just leave me,” I muttered. Rosalind looked at me quizzically. “One of us is bound to die anyway. So go on. Save yourself,” I spat venomously. I looked down and muttered, “That’s what I’d do, anyway.”
“You’re actually giving up?” Rosalind raised an eyebrow.
“If I win, my life will still be hell. If not, I’ll go to hell.” I clenched my fists and brought out one of my knives. I stared at my reflection in it. “It doesn’t matter either way.”
Rosalind tilted her head. “Novaya Gates, you are a complicated person.”
“I could say the same for you.”
Rosalind began to walk away. She turned to look at me one last time, and left my sight forever.
I stared at my knife. At least I hadn’t gone crazy like so many other tributes.
At least I wasn’t going to tragically die as one of the Capitol’s puppets.
I was going to die as Novaya Gates.
As I sat with my back against the wall of an old building, and I stared at the crumbling pieces falling.
Raising my knife, I looked at the sky.
Hazel Maize, District Nine Female
After Lilah (8F) had died, the anti-Careers had been reduced to a duo. It was strange to think after everything that had happened, Canary (12F) and I were the only ones left.
The clocktower twist had been announced when we had woken up the next night. Almost immediately, Canary and I’d left in search for it. So far, it wasn’t a very fruitful search. However, that was our only option, and we were in another do or die situation.
As we were walking, a question popped into my head. “Hey, Canary,” I began, “if everyone’s headed to the clocktower, does that mean different alliances are going to run into each other?”
“That’s highly probable,” Canary replied. “However, if the terrain keeps changing, the exact opposite could also happen. Knowing the gamemakers, it’s more likely we’ll run into other tributes.”
I nodded. “What’s the point of the Hunger Games if we don’t fight?”
“What’s the point of the Hunger Games in the first place?” Canary muttered bitterly. “Damn Capitol.”
I stayed silent as we continued to walk.
I examined our surroundings carefully. Peering into the distance, I noticed something familiar. “Is that… the Cornucopia?”
Canary looked where I was pointing at. “I think it is. Considering how many Careers have died and the fact the arena changes all the time, the remaining Careers probably aren’t there. Let’s go take a look. It might just lead us to the clocktower.”
I agreed. We both went over to the rundown park where we first started.
Although the bodies were gone, dried blood still remained. That sent a shiver down my spine.
This was the same place two of our allies had died.
Flicker (10M) had been killed so easily as if he merely existed in a poorly written story just to increase the body count.
Finn (9M), too, died here. Not only was he part of the anti-Careers, but he was also my District partner. If I had been upset over his death, I could only imagine what Francis (6M) had gone through.
But Francis was dead, too.
He had been killed by one of our own allies.
Lilah had killed both Rodeo (CM) and Francis, and Canary had put an end to Lilah.
So much for a loyal alliance.
“There’s nothing here,” Canary concluded after her search. “Let’s keep moving.”
I followed her out of the desolate park.
To think children could ever have played here; it seemed so unlikely.
“Only one of us can survive,” I told Canary. “What would you do if we were the last two remaining?”
Canary remained silent for a few seconds. “Let’s just hope it doesn’t come to that.”
I wondered if she was willing to kill me but didn’t have the heart to tell me. I tried not to dwell on that.
I tried to lighten the mood. “You know, for the anti-Careers, we haven’t run into the Careers at all.”
“Funny how that works,” commented Canary. She suddenly froze, but her eyes lit up. “Look over there!”
“It can’t be that far now!” Canary was ecstatic, and so was I. “It’s just across that tennis field and from what it looks like, less than a mile away after that!”
“See, I told you we could find it!” I grinned.
Even though we had just found the clocktower, something felt wrong. The air was full of tension. It felt too easy.
My eyes wandered over to the tennis field once more. I could make out four figures approaching the field.
There was only one alliance with four tributes left.
“The Careers,” I whispered to Canary, who widened her eyes in alarm.
The leader seemed to be talking to the other three. One was limping and seemed badly injured.
“If we walk around the field,” I whispered, “we’d be able to reach the clocktower within—”
“There’s no use,” muttered Canary.
I looked back at the Careers. The leader’s eyes were locked onto me.
“They’ve already spotted us.”
Sabrina Clemency, District Four Female
Even with Mercury’s (2M) bad leg, the Careers managed to find the clocktower. I’d first spotted it a few minutes before we had reached the tennis field.
“That seems oddly close-by,” Brighton (1M) had commented.
“That’s a good thing!” Geno (14M) had added.
Mercury, who was leaning on me for support, had simply nodded. Oddly enough, I was the one who had helped him move around and not Brighton. Those two had seemed pretty close, but they’d been acting weird around each other since Scarlett’s (1F) death. I didn’t question it.
However, I did notice two tributes when we reached the tennis field.
“Are those the anti-Careers?” I told the others.
“Good eye, Sabrina!” Geno exclaimed. “I don’t think they know we’ve already seen them. Let’s see what their course of action is—ah, no, wait, I looked one of them in the eye.”
Brighton gripped his spatha. “Looks like it’s time to fight!”
I readied my chakrams. Geno grinned as he pulled out his snake-sword. Mercury seemed to be the only one reluctant to fight seeing he was at a disadvantage, but he prepared himself anyway.
“I hope you’re not thinking about running off,” Geno called out to the anti-Careers loudly. “I’d hate to miss out a good fight.”
The black-haired one, Canary (12F), stepped forward onto the field rather bravely. “Of course, a Career like you wouldn’t mind killing people,” she spat venomously.
She grabbed two throwing knives and ushered her ally to come with her. Hazel (9F) came forward with her sickle. Even with the larger weapon, she didn’t look nearly as intimidating as Canary did.
“It’s a four versus two fight,” said Mercury. “I wouldn’t want to be in your place.”
“I’d rather that than only one functional leg,” commented Hazel.
Brighton looked like he was about to say something, but I quickly told both sides, “Er, are we going to talk smack about each other or actually fight?”
Geno pretended to think about it for a moment. “Hmm, good point.”
Without warning, he lunged at Canary with his snake-sword. Canary skilfully dodged the surprise attack and managed to kick him in the chin, sending him to the ground. I took that opportunity to launch a chakram aimed at her head. Canary wasn’t looking in my direction, so it would’ve killed her instantly if it wasn’t for Hazel blocking the attack with her sickle.
Canary muttered a quick thank-you to Hazel before engaging Geno, who’d gotten up, in a one-on-one battle.
Close-range combat was not a strength of mine, and it seemed that Hazel figured this out, seeing as I didn’t go near her to recover my chakram. Fortunately, Brighton came over to help and started nocking arrows at her, getting her away from my weapon.
I quickly grabbed my fallen chakram when Hazel left. “Thanks!” I told Brighton.
“No problem!” He grinned, but his face soon turned into one of alarm. “Duck!”
Without looking back because I knew what he meant, I ducked. A sharp pain coursed through my shoulder, but I knew it would’ve hit a fatal spot if I hadn’t dodged it. As Hazel pulled her sickle out of my shoulder, I quickly turned around and smacked her in the face with my chakram, nearly blinding her.
She yelped in pain as her cheek began bleeding, but she didn’t stop fighting me. Whenever she tried slicing at me, I blocked the attacks with my chakrams. However, it was becoming difficult over time and I knew if I didn’t get back into far-ranged combat, I’d be dead.
So I ran.
Brighton then began battling Hazel himself, and Hazel tried blocking his attacks with her own weapon. I took a glance at Geno and Canary noticed how many scars and bruises they both had. I guess that was what happened when two good fighters battled against each other.
Mercury wasn’t doing much the whole time. I couldn’t blame him, but this did make him a liability. He was just holding his spear and standing at the sidelines, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. He seemed to be more focused on Brighton than anyone else.
I decided to go help Geno fight Canary. I launched yet another chakram at Canary.
“Look out!” Hazel yelled before getting impaled in the thigh by Brighton.
Canary dodged my chakram yet again, and it hit Geno in the shoulder. His eyes turned to me as if to ask what the hell I was doing.
Canary took this opportunity to try stabbing Geno, but he grabbed her wrist before he could do so.
“Now, Sabrina!” He shouted to me, and I understood what I had to do as I ran at Canary.
The battle between the Careers and the anti-Careers raged on.
Brighton Honeycutt, District One Male
Now fighting Hazel (9F) alone, I managed to get the upper hand by shoving my spatha into her thigh. For a District Nine tribute, she was a good fighter and wasn’t going down easily.
As I kept fighting Hazel, I took a quick glance at Geno (14M) and Sabrina (4F). Just before the latter could end Canary’s (12F) life once and for all, the anti-Career kicked her away and stabbed at Geno’s hand with her other knife, causing him to let go of her wrist.
Knowing she couldn’t possibly win the fight, Canary began to run. “Hazel!” She called out.
“Running away, coward?” Geno shouted as he grabbed his injured hand. Sabrina chucked a chakram at her. I continued fighting Hazel.
Hazel had gotten Canary’s message, but I wasn’t letting her back out. By this point, she couldn’t land any attacks and was only able to dodge mine. In other words, I was winning.
Then, something unexpected happen.
The world shook. I lost my balance and fell, but the earthquake kept rumbling. Thankfully, my opponent was also distracted and didn’t kill me right away.
I thought the Capitol wanted to see a fight. Why would the gamemakers interrupt it with another earthquake?
I looked at the ground. I wasn’t even standing on the tennis field. The tennis field was nowhere in my sight. Geno, Sabrina and Canary disappeared completely.
Where was Mercury (2M)?
Where was Hazel?
Where was I?
There was an object in my hand—two half-charms that together created ‘V + B’. The V half was completely broken by force.
“The next time you come near me, I’ll call the peacekeepers,” a feminine voice threatened.
“We’re done,” a different voice echoed in my head.
There was a hollow feeling in my chest, and for some reason I couldn’t breathe.
I got up anyway and turned around only to see a certain somebody.
There was pure hatred in his eyes—even worse than the ones in Deralia’s and Valentina’s eyes.
Why was there a gun in his hand?
And why was it pointed at me?
“Brighton,” he spat.
However, his face contorted one of horror and he called out as if it was a warning, “Brighton! Look out!”
Pain surged through my side as I snapped back into reality. I was back at the tennis field which seemed to stretch out for miles. Geno, Sabrina and Canary were gone. Mercury was standing in front of me, but he was too far away to help me. Hazel’s sickle was just a few inches away from hitting a fatal spot in my torso, but it still hurt a lot.
I groaned in pain, but I still turned around to kill Hazel. Unfortunately, with her injured leg and my wounded torso, we were now even.
For some reason, my movements were staggering and it became more difficult to attack Hazel.
I could still see the Mercury I’d hallucinated stare at me distastefully.
For a moment, I wondered if it would be so bad to let Hazel kill me right then and there.
I was already too tired.
Hazel was just about to plunge her sickle through my chest, and I did nothing to stop her as I shut my eyes.
Instead of feeling the life leave my body, I opened my eyes and time froze.
A sickle ripped through Mercury’s chest. He was standing between Hazel and me.
He wasn’t dead. He couldn’t be.
His face had no regrets.
I couldn’t comprehend the situation.
Time continued again and the sickle was pulled out of him. He fell over onto me.
Hazel looked confused and began to run.
She wasn’t going to run.
I wasn’t going to let her.
Her face morphed into an expression of horror as I plunged both my spatha through her chest—the same expression I wore.
She dropped dead to the ground and a cannon boomed. I couldn’t tell if it was her cannon or Mercury’s.
I turned to Mercury. “Why would you do that?” I asked with a shaking voice.
Mercury grinned at me weakly. “It was worth it. Besides, I wouldn’t get far with a broken leg, anyway.”
“Yes, you would!” My hands were trembling. “We could’ve gotten sponsors that could heal you, or, or—”
“It’s fine, Brighton,” he interrupted quietly. “A—And don’t be sorry for last night. Or for this.”
“I’m sorry,” I mumbled anyway. Before I even realised it, my vision became blurry with tears and my cheeks were wet.
“Don’t be. Just win the Games.” His eyes turned over to the starless night. “You know,” he said softly, “I never thought I’d get over Avan.”
And a cannon sounded the end of Mercury Kwildor.
Rosalind Bree, District Three Female
Between the time I had left Novaya (0F) and now, three cannons had sounded. I was perfectly sure one of them was Novaya.
I didn’t know what to feel about her death. Sure, she was an icy, distant and heartless person, but there was much more to her. I wished I could break her down into spare parts and analyse each bit of machinery carefully, but she wasn’t the sort of person you could do that to.
Funny how the emotionless robot was the only person I couldn’t see the cogs of.
I shook Novaya out of my brain. Two other people had died, so that meant only seven people were left. Out of them, I was one. That meant six threats were left. Four were Careers, unless a Career had died, so they would be the strongest. Two were anti-Careers, unless an anti-Career also died. I’d consider them the second strongest alliance. The last tribute that could’ve been alive was a loner, Posia (11F), unless she had been killed. Considering my opponents, I had about 3.76-4.97% chance of surviving.
A few possibilities included the Careers rioting against themselves and two of them dying, or the anti-Careers getting into a fight with the Careers and two battlers were killed, or one alliance found Posia and killed her while someone died to an earthquake, or Novaya miraculously survived and three others died…
Well, all that rambling isn’t important right now. What was important was getting to the clocktower.
The goal was in my sight.
I walked carefully towards the clocktower, which kept growing closer and closer, while keeping a watchful eye on my surroundings. I had to make the 4.97% count.
Something about the environment seemed familiar. As sure as I was that I probably hadn’t been here before, there was no telling due to the earthquake changing the arena.
My suspicion was right. I stopped in my tracks.
A few metres to my left was a certain café with a broken window and a bloodstained trap next to it. My victory and my fall.
Out of curiosity, I walked over to the trap, inspecting it. The glass shards surprisingly avoided the rope, which seemed oddly new. Bloodstains and broken bits of glass still remained on the ground. Peering closer, I decided the wire was still connected to what let the glass shards fall. To sum it up, the trap was inactive.
Just to be sure, I quickly tugged at the wire. Nothing happened.
I breathed out a sigh of relief and turned around to get back on track with reaching the clocktower only to meet with a dreadfully familiar figure.
“I was wondering when you’d notice me,” commented Eugene (14M). He was covered in scars and bruises, but his devillish smirk seemed to forget that.
Without wasting a second, I ran.
Not away from him. I ran right past him.
“Wha—?” Eugene hadn’t comprehended my escape until it actually happened. Angered, he ran after me.
But where would I run to? With my own injuries, I wouldn’t get far. Instead, I decided to run into the nearest building and lock myself inside immediately.
Seconds later, there was banging on the door. Not knowing what to do next, I stood frozen, trying to think of a plan.
“Really?” I could almost see Eugene rolling his eyes. “This is your plan?”
I said nothing.
“Ah, here comes the silence.” The banging stopped. “You know, I can easily find another way to get in.”
If there was another way in, there was another way out.
I began running up the stairs. While I ran, there was an unmistakable sound of a window breaking. Eugene got in. I had no time to lose.
Without looking where I was going, I tripped over a messy net of wires. Ignoring any new bruises, I kept running up the stairs. I could hear another pair of footsteps following me.
It was the end of the line when I reached the rooftop, and it was then when I realised the horrific mistake I’d made.
My legs began shaking. At any moment, I could trip and fall and—
No! I couldn’t afford to think negatively. I tried to ignore the fact I was on a rooftop and pretended to be safely on the ground.
Unfortunately, Eugene soon entered the area. With the number of wires tangled around his leg, it was evident he fell into the same wires I had.
“Looks like it’s the end of the line for you.” Eugene grinned.
I took a step backwards. He stepped forwards.
“You know,” he started, “you were the beginning of the Careers’ fall. Most of us would’ve still been alive if it weren’t for you.”
I didn’t know what he was talking about. I crept another step back.
“First, you killed Jacob, and then we tried getting back to the Cornucopia only to get lost. Because of that, Genevieve was dead. When we tried to get back on our feet, Rio and Caboose had fallen. Then, Scarlett became too sure of herself, so I had to kill her. And now, I’ve been separated from Sabrina, Brighton and Mercury, any of whom could be dead by now. The root of all this? You.”
“That’s a lot of blame to pin on someone,” I muttered, still backing away.
“Naturally,” Eugene continued with his spiel, “it would be fitting for me, the leader of the Careers and the soon-to-be victor, to put an end to you. How about it?”
He totally went insane. Before I took yet another step back, I was at the edge of the roof. For some reason, the drop down seemed way longer than it should have. That didn’t help the queasy feeling in my stomach.
“Look.” The smile fell off of Eugene’s face, and he looked serious. “There isn’t much time until the day ends, but the clocktower is just around the corner. So, the faster you die, the more time I have to get to it, and the better chance I have at winning.”
There was no more backing away. He unsheathed his snake-sword.
“Besides,” he said. “You don’t have a choice.”
He slashed at me and there was nothing I could do but fall backwards. Miraculously, I caught the edge of the roof with my hands and clung onto it for dear life.
Don’t look down. Don’t look down. Don’t look down.
Instead, I looked up at my soon-to-be killer, who seemed disappointed I wasn’t dead yet.
“Do you still have a sliver of hope that in some convenient miracle, you’ll survive?” Eugene asked, looking down at me. I glanced at his leg. Some of the wire was dangling off the edge. I knew exactly what to do.
“Well, you sure are a hopeful person, then.” He prepared to swing his weapon at me one last time. “Any last words?”
“You’re going down with me,” I growled.
I pulled the wire and let go.
Posia Courtier, District Eleven Female
One of the worst feelings in the world is going crazy, knowing you’re crazy and not being able to do anything about it. It’s something that shouldn’t even be possible. Only someone crazy could think it was.
I didn’t know what was happening. I couldn’t distinguish reality from insanity. I couldn’t keep track of time. I didn’t know how long it was until the day ended and those who hadn’t reached the clocktower get killed. I didn’t want to be one of them.
There was blood on my hands. There was no blood on my hands. Talia Mignonette (5F) was dead. Or was she?
Considering I still had her pack, she must have been dead.
That meant I’d killed her.
No! I’d been meaning to kill the serial killer. I’d wanted to make him have a taste of his own medicine as a punishment for what he’d made me go through.
But Talia was dead, and there was nothing I could do about it. I was just grateful she hadn’t been my ally. That would’ve made the guilt worse.
I’d been running through District Eleven and the arena simultaneously—another result of these hallucinations. I had no idea which direction was what, or where I was going. The only thing I could do was run.
The reason? He was running right behind me.
My brother’s murderer.
The one who’d made my life absolute hell.
He had been at my tail ever since I’d killed Talia. How long had it been since then? Two days? It felt like two months, however. I couldn’t tell time at all.
There was no time to rest. He was always running after me without pause. He wasn’t getting tired, but I was.
Then, I snapped back to reality—for a moment, at least.
In the distance, I could make out a tall building. No, it wasn’t just any tall building.
I had to rub my eyes to make sure it wasn’t yet another hallucination.
I looked behind me. There was no one chasing me.
I collapsed to the ground and breathed heavily. Every single bit of my body ached terribly. I wanted to stay there and waste away.
But the clocktower was so close. There was no way I could stop now.
Forcing every ounce of strength I had left, I managed to get up. I began running to the clocktower. It was so close.
Unfortunately, the now dreadful sound of the anthem began playing, and the sky lit up with faces of the newly deceased.
Time was up.
“No!” I started shrieking as one face faded into another. “No, no! I have to get to the clocktower!”
I wasn’t paying attention to who died, but I did see my brother’s face, the serial killer’s face, and lastly, my own face.
I didn’t know what I was screaming about, but I was shouting like a madman. I’d become a madman.
As the sky turned black again, the earth began to shake one last time.
I fell back to the ground, and looked up at darkness one last time.
Night Six: Daylight
Lindell Brocklehurst, District Seven Female
It had been six days since I’d first stepped into this hellhole.
Thirty-one others had also entered this place.
Four were left now.
Only one was going to leave alive.
I took in a deep breath and opened my eyes.
Four brick walls surrounded me. I could hear the distinct chime of a clock. The room was completely empty except for a single staircase leading up.
But I didn’t move—not yet, at least.
My primary goal was to survive. The only way to survive was to win.
My second goal had been to reach the clocktower, and here I was, standing inside it. The only question that remained was, what now?
I was here. What happened next?
The answer lied up the stairs. I wanted to find out. Then why didn’t my legs budge?
I took a moment to go over everything that had happened.
I’d just been an ordinary girl from District Seven. I’d come from a caring, hardworking family. I had loving parents and siblings. I had spent time blissfully playing in meadows and conversing with nature. My life had been average, but good.
And it had all been taken away from me in my fourth reaping.
But I still had had hope when Maverick (4M) had invited me to his strong alliance. Even that hope had been snatched away from my grasp when three out of four of them had all been brutally murdered in the bloodbath.
Faith had been regained when Bellum (13M) and I’d come across Coco (CF), and I thought I’d made a new friend.
Faith had died when I had watched her be driven to insanity and end her own life.
My only ally had taken advantage of my shock and tried to murder me. In an attempt to get away, I’d stuck a knife in his head.
And then I was all alone. I’d expected to be killed in an earthquake.
Miraculously, I’d reached the clocktower. That had been enough to give me a tiny shred of light, a sliver of hope coursing through me, that I’d survive. And that had been enough to keep me going.
I was so close. In fact, I was already there. All that was left to be done was the other three to be defeated, and me to climb up those stairs.
I gripped my knife tight, and my legs finally gained the strength to move.
I stepped towards the staircase. Peering up, I could see an almost endless amount of floors to reach the top. Cogs and bits of machinery moved rhythmically with the ticking of a certain clock. In fact, I was impressed by this scene and the insane amount of effort put into this—all for the aesthetics of a mere killing game. It was almost sad.
Well, I had other things to worry about.
I took another step forward. I could almost see the curtains ready to fall; I could see them preparing to end the 475th Hunger Games once and for all.
I breathed in deeply. This was it.
As I stepped onto the long staircase, I kept those words Haymitch Abernathy had used to say to his tributes in my head: stay alive.
Canary Ash, District Twelve Female
Recollections of that fight surged through my head.
I’d been ferociously swiping, slicing, kicking and launching attacks at Eugene (14M) for the longest time. Some landed, others missed. Some of his attacks I had dodged, others wounded me. All in all, we had been equally bruising each other and draining one another’s energy. I knew I’d been fighting someone with equal strength as me.
No. I would never be an equal to a monster who found murder a sport. For that, I’d needed to win.
My chance of winning had slimmed when Sabrina (4F) had come into the picture. Eugene had caught my wrist and pulled me into a headlock, urging Sabrina to land the final blow.
That had been when the earthquake struck.
In both their moments of shock, I’d managed to kick Eugene in the crotch and get out of his grip. I’d wanted to run for Hazel (9F), but when I had looked over at her, she’d been gone. The earthquake had separated the two fights.
A selfless hero would have stood their ground and fought to the death. A logical person would’ve run away.
And so I’d run with the sound of two cannons ringing in my head. Praying neither of them had been Hazel, at midnight it had been concluded that the anti-Careers had been reduced to a loner.
Some would think I was a coward who ran away, not sticking to my promise to silence the ones who had sinned. In the end, I still kept true to my word. I’d won that fight.
Because Eugene Watson was dead.
I knew who was alive. I suspected that Hazel had killed Mercury (2M) and in turn was killed by Brighton (1M). I vowed to eliminate the surviving Careers. Chances were they were separated.
The Brocklehurst girl (7F) should not be much of a threat. I knew little to nothing about her, but what I did know was that I’d have to put her down to secure victory and start a revolution.
After all, victory was almost within my reach. I was in the clocktower.
Considering the fact four people were in this place and I’d seen no one so far, I assumed there were multiple entrances. What I knew for sure was that there were numerous floors, and the Gamemakers wanted us to walk all the way to the top.
Better start walking, then.
As I began taking steps up the spiraling staircase, all I could hear were the echoes of my own footsteps and the distracting sound of cogs and wheels spinning in sync. I started thinking about what would come next.
Reach the top floor.
Kill Sabrina Clemency.
Kill Brighton Honeycutt.
Kill Lindell Brocklehurst.
Take down the Capitol.
First things came first. I’d have to think about the rest after I reached the top floor.
I listened to my own footsteps. The echoes stopped sounding like echoes.
I paused. Footsteps continued. They were coming from the floor directly above me.
I guessed reaching the top would come later. Right now, I had unfinished business to complete.
Brighton Honeycutt, District One Male
Mercury (2M) was dead.
He was dead.
I was the reason he was dead.
Mercury was dead.
Those were the only words ringing in my head.
I felt hollow.
Hollow and hopeless.
Why did love never go right in my life?
What had I done to deserve this?
Don’t be sorry. Just win the Games.
I didn’t know if I could stick to that promise.
I wanted the earth to swallow me.
I wanted to stop feeling anything.
But I promised Mercury.
So I went forward.
It was a miracle I hadn’t bled out to death by the time I reached the clocktower. Oddly enough, no one was there. The announcer had clearly said that those who didn’t reach the clocktower in time would be killed by the earthquake, but three others were alive and I was the only one here. Maybe everyone else were in different rooms.
Sabrina (4F) was alive. I wondered if I should try to find her. With the competition this close, we’d probably kill each other. Still, it would be nice to find a familiar face again rather than face off the anti-Career girl.
Walking up the stairs, I was accompanied by nothing except the sound of my own blood dripping onto every step. I had a feeling I wouldn’t last long with this wound.
Against the odds, I reached the top. I could hear the clock tick, but I didn’t see it anywhere. What I did find was a large door, grand and gilded with gold. There was no doubt this was it. Taking a deep breath, I stepped forward and pulled the handle.
Inside the room was her.
Immediately on alert, she spun around and readied her chakrams before she realised it was me. Sabrina didn’t lower her weapons, but she did seem less wary.
“I didn’t expect to find you here,” she commented.
“Me neither,” I said.
We didn’t say another word to each other. We stood in silence and stared at each other.
We both knew what we had to do now—fight until the other died. However, neither of us moved.
After a long moment, I finally spoke up. “Hey, no hard feelings, right?”
Sabrina shook her head. Despite all that happened, we were still friends… sort of. I felt reluctant to fight her.
“You know,” I said, “if I don’t make it out alive, I’d be okay knowing you won.”
“Thanks,” she mumbled. She didn’t seem too eager to kill me either. Sabrina took a deep breath. “On three?”
“Two.” I grabbed my twin spatha.
“One.” A new voice added. I spun around to have my nose broken by Canary (12F).
She had me pinned to the ground instantly, and immediately, Sabrina and I fell on the same side once more.
Sabrina Clemency, District Four Female
As soon as Canary (12F) threw Brighton (1M) to the ground, I began swiping my chakrams at her. Skilfully dodging each blow, Canary’s focus seemed to be on Brighton. Was it because he killed her ally?
Either way, she was about to kill an ally of mine. In spite of the fact we were allies, I would have to kill him afterwards as well.
Was it better to let Canary kill him?
I hesitated helping Brighton for a moment. I glanced at my former ally. Instead, I saw my abusive uncle Philip hovering over Lila, my sister, who was suddenly badly injured. Philip had an already bloodied knife in his hand and he was about to land the fatal blow on her.
As the horror sank in, my reflexes took over me as I hurled a chakram at him. The illusion shattered as the weapon was instead aimed for Canary, who once again ducked and avoided certain death. Before I could attack with my remaining chakram, a sharp pain pierced through my right bicep. I staggered backwards, clutching the knife Canary had launched at me.
Why didn’t I see it coming?
There was no way the Gamemakers hid her attack from my sight. There was no way they’d be biased towards an anti-Career, would they?
Either way, I was vulnerable and Canary was aiming her next attack straight for my throat. I prepared to dodge it with my chakram. Before I could do that, a knife sunk into her shoulder and a certain someone pushed her down.
Lindell Brocklehurst (7F) joined in on the action. She quickly retrieved her knife from Canary’s shoulder, and the two of them began to fight one on one. Brighton had fallen unconscious by this time. I pulled the knife out of my arm, wincing, and made my way over to where my chakram fell.
Canary was easily overpowering Lindell, but the latter made up for it by her resolve to stay alive. Determination was burning in her eyes, ignoring the wounds Canary continued to inflict on her.
I glanced at my former ally. Should I have put him out of his misery?
He was already unconscious and posed no threat. That could wait for later.
I decided to take out Canary from behind while she was still focused on Lindell, and then kill Lindell.
Readying my chakram for one last fight, time suddenly stopped.
Everyone stopped fighting.
An announcer’s voice boomed throughout the room. “Welcome to the heart of the clocktower, tributes! Congratulations to the four of you for making it to the finale!”
I squinted at the ceiling in confusion. It wasn’t like the Gamemakers to suddenly stop a fight.
“Out of the thirty-two tributes who entered the arena, you have persevered and made it to the end.” In spite of her cheerful voice, the announcer seemed disappointed. “You fought the darkness and made it to the light at the end of the tunnel. For that, we are delighted to crown all four of you as the victors of the 475th Hunger Games!”
“A—All four of us?” Lindell asked rhetorically.
Canary had let go of her. “Unbelievable,” she muttered, pleasantly surprised.
Brighton seemed to have woken up by this point. “What?”
I looked out of the large glass window upon which the clock rested. What I saw was something I hadn’t seen in eternities.
Head Gamemaker, The Capitol
“Are you sure you should’ve done this?”
Without glancing at my subordinate, I replied, “President Umbra can have my head for all I care, Vienne. Issue the aircrafts to retrieve the victors.”
“On it, but why are you so determined to have all four of them win?”
I turned a deaf ear on her. “Deactivate the force fields,” I ordered a different Gamemaker. He nodded and began typing commands onto a device.
“Is this some sort of personal matter?” Vienne inquired. She didn’t know when to let it go, did she?
I continued ignoring her. Instead, I peered into the screen to see what the tributes were up to. The hovercrafts had arrived to retrieve the tributes. The girl from District Seven and the unconscious Career were the first up. The anti-Career had to be tranquillised before they took her inside because she kept trying to attack one of them. Last but not least, the Career girl stepped inside.
Light was pouring into the arena. I could only imagine how the tributes must have felt seeing that. After all, they’d been trapped in a maze devoid of light for nearly a week, and they were forced to kill each other within it. So many of them went insane trying to escape that abyss.
If saving four innocent teenagers would make her forgive me for letting her die four years ago, I would do it. And I had done it.
If I could have done it for the 471st Hunger Games—my first year as Head Gamemaker—I wouldn’t have to be doing this. She would’ve still been alive.
But these four were alive. The anti-Career would try to spark a revolution. The girl from District Seven would go back to her blissfully ordinary life. The Career from District Four would return to her family. The boy from District One would start his life anew.
That was worth it.
“Mr. Blaise,” someone asked me. I turned around to see some men clad in black suits. “President Umbra would like to see you.”
Nonchalantly, I stepped away from my station and walked with these men.
I knew what was about to happen, and I wasn’t dreading it.
The victors of the 19th Quarter Quell would symbolise hope for Panem for the next few decades.
Despite the fact I was walking to my death, I felt no regret. I’d see my daughter again, and she would finally forgive me.
A Bystander from the Outskirts of Panem
He did it.
It took him four years and my own supposed death for him to say sorry, but he finally did it.
For the past four years, I loathed him for letting me die in my Hunger Games. If it wasn’t for a miracle, that was all I would’ve been: just another casualty of the Hunger Games.
He redeemed himself. I supposed he was going to be executed for this in hopes of seeing me again.
I’m sorry, Dad.
I couldn’t dwell on that fact anymore, however. I didn’t have time to mourn. I had to infiltrate the Victors’ Village and find the victors.
Why, you ask? I’ve had this plan ever since I’d escaped the arena.
I knew for a fact Canary Ash would try to help me with my plan. With some luck, I hoped Lindell Brocklehurst would do the same. Though it would be difficult, I had to try and convince the Careers, Brighton Honeycutt and Sabrina Clemency, to do the same.
With the help of the victors, we would begin to clear the clouds of darkness hanging over Panem.
It was the end of the days that grew dark, darker, yet darker. It was time for an era of light.
|Tribute||Cause of Death||Time of Death||Placing|
|District Ten Female||Blown up||Night One||32nd|
|District Six Female||Face slashed by Eugene Watson (14M)||Night One||31st|
|District Eleven Male||Stabbed in the throat by Canary Ash (12F)||Night One||30th|
|Flicker Grazen (10M)||Stabbed in the back by Posia Courtier (11F)||Night One||29th|
|Claude Foster (0M)||Speared by Maverick Olympus (4M)||Night One||28th|
|Antoine Boudoir (7M)||Chakram in the chest by Sabrina Clemency (4F)||Night One||27th|
|Maverick Olympus (4M)||Shiv in the head by Kasha Sewall (13F)||Night One||26th|
|Kasha Sewall (13F)||Chakram in the chest by Sabrina Clemency (4F)||Night One||25th|
|Finland Faux (9M)||Stabbed in the throat by James Desmond (5M)||Night One||24th|
|James Desmond (5M)||Head bashed in by Francis Faux (6M)||Night One||23rd|
|Grant Sawyer (8M)||Drowned; indirectly by Talia Mignonette (5F)||Night Two||22nd|
|Jacob Flare (12M)||Killed by Rosalind Bree's (3F) trap||Night Two||21st|
|Rodeo Baldios (CM)||Strangled by Lilah Jöllenbeck (8F)||Night Three||20th|
|Genevieve Azarling (2F)||Shot by Michael Caboose's (3M) arrow||Night Three||19th|
|Talia Mignonette (5F)||Stabbed multiple times by Posia Courtier (11F)||Night Three||18th|
|Francis Faux (6M)||Stabbed in the throat by Lilah Jöllenbeck (8F)||Night Three||17th|
|Lilah Jöllenbeck (8F)||Blunt force trauma caused by Canary Ash (12F)||Night Three||16th|
|Rio Waterborne (14F)||Killed by earthquake||Night Four||15th|
|Michael Caboose (3M)||Killed by earthquake||Night Four||14th|
|Coco Chanel (CF)||Jumped out of a building||Night Four||13th|
|Bellum Bliston (13M)||Stabbed in the head by Lindell Brocklehurst (7F)||Night Four||12th|
|Scarlett Winters (1F)||Pushed into grinder by Eugene Watson (14M)||Night Four||11th|
|Novaya Gates (0F)||Took her own life||Night Five||10th|
|Hazel Maize (9F)||Spatha in the chest by Brighton Honeycutt (1M)||Night Five||9th|
|Mercury Kwildor (2M)||Sickle through the chest by Hazel Maize (9F)||Night Five||8th|
|Eugene Watson (14M)||Fell to his death; caused by Rosalind Bree (3F)||Night Five||7th|
|Rosalind Bree (3F)||Fell to her death||Night Five||6th|
|Posia Courtier (11F)||Killed by earthquake||Night Five||5th|
|Brighton Honeycutt (1M)||Victor||Night Six||1st|
|Sabrina Clemency (4F)||Victor||Night Six||1st|
|Lindell Brocklehurst (7F)||Victor||Night Six||1st|
|Canary Ash (12F)||Victor||Night Six||1st|